Keystrokes aplenty


Marsalis brings jazzy start to 'Great Pianists Series'

Music Column

July 29, 2008|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic

A few years ago, when the University of Baltimore unveiled its intimate Performing Arts Theater at the Student Center, a handsome new Steinway concert grand, selected by eminent pianist Yefim Bronfman, was part of the package. That piano will soon get a significant workout.

A "Great Pianists Series" will be inaugurated during the 2008-2009 season, starting on Oct. 11 with jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, father of Wynton and Branford, among others.

The senior Marsalis is a considerable force in his own right - as a performer, composer and teacher.

The series, put together by Shriver Hall Concert Series executive director David Baldwin, takes a classical turn for the remainder of the season.

Venezuelan-born Gabriela Montero has made waves not just for her colorful playing of the standard piano repertoire, but also for her ability to improvise. She'll give a recital on Dec. 6.

Two great American pianists will round out the series.

Peter Serkin, known for a probing intellect and a particular communicative flair with contemporary music, will perform on April 4.

And Gary Graffman will close the series on May 9. Graffman, who turns 80 this fall, lost the use of his right hand nearly 30 years ago and, like Leon Fleisher, developed a second career playing music for left-hand alone.

Subscriptions to the new UB series will go on sale shortly, single tickets in September. Call 410-837-4053 or e-mail

35 years

The Music in the Great Hall opens its 35th season with a program featuring the founder and, for the first 30 of those seasons, artistic director of the organization, pianist Virginian Reinecke. She'll be joined on Sept. 21 by violinist Nicholas Currie and cellist Pei Lu for works by Hummel, Schubert and Stanley Silverman.

The series, held at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, continues on Nov. 2 with pianist Bradford Gowen, a University of Maryland faculty member, in a recital that includes music by Haydn and Mendelssohn. Each year, the series presents a Yale Gordon/Peabody Competition-winner in concert. This season's young artist, pianist Michael Berkosky, will perform Jan. 25.

Soprano Lorriana Markovic-Prakash, accompanied by pianist and Great Hall artistic director Adam Mahonske (both are Morgan State University faculty members), will offer works by Tchaikovsky, Poulenc and others on March 8. The series will close April 19 with a program of all 20th-century music performed by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra cellist Bo Li, with pianist Kuei-I Wu.

Call 410-813-4255 or go to

A string of guitars

The Baltimore Classical Society's 21st season will open Oct. 11 at Peabody Conservatory with a recital by Eduardo Fernandez. The much-recorded Uruguayan guitarist is known for his writing, composing and teaching, as well as his playing.

The series continues Dec. 6 at the Baltimore Museum of Art with a program of music featuring baroque lute and baroque guitar, played by a noted specialist in both, Hopkinson Smith. Uruguayan guitarist Alvaro Pierri, a multiple prize winner, will appear at the BMA March 7. Back at Peabody, the series will close with a concert by the popular and dynamic Los Angeles Guitar Quartet on May 2.

For more information on the Guitar Society's 2008-2009 lineup, call 410-247-5320 or go to

Mobtown Modern

One of the newest and most promising entries in Baltimore's musical life is the Mobtown Modern series at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. The 2008-2009 series opens Sept. 9 with a program called "Too Cool for School," put together by saxophonist Brian Sacawa and composer/turntablist Erik Spangler.

Count on hearing cutting-edge works by the likes of David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Spangler and others. Count also on a video installation that will be created during the concert by Guy Warner.

For more information, go to or


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