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By David Donovan and David Donovan,Special to The Sun | November 22, 1994
Pro Musica Rara opened its 20th season at the Baltimore Museum of Art Sunday afternoon with the "Steps to Parnassus." Parnassus is the mountain in Greece associated with Apollo; unfortunately, Pro Musica Rara was not always at the peak.The collection of solo sonatas, trio sonatas, and solo suite were all masterworks, but the musical results were a little uneven.The program opened with the first of the "Mystery" sonatas of Heinrich Ignaz von Biber. Violinist Cynthia Roberts played with sensitivity and gave the music its melancholic flavor.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 29, 2014
As cellist Allen Whear pointed out during his typically droll welcome to the audience Sunday afternoon at Towson University's Center for the Arts, there are two big 40th anniversary seasons this year: "Saturday Night Live" and Pro Musica Rara . The latter's milestone, as Whear also noted, is all the more remarkable considering that the early music movement -- playing period instruments, attempting to follow historic performance practices --...
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By TIM SMITH | September 29, 2005
Way up near the top of the most inspired and profound works of classical music you'll find the suites for solo cello by Bach. With one instrument, he created whole worlds of sonic poetry. To kick off its 31st season of presenting early music on original instruments, Pro Musica Rara presents its artistic director, cellist Allen Whear, in a program containing two of Bach's cello suites, along with works by Gabrielli and Telemann. The program is 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Marikle Chapel, College of Notre Dame, 4701 N. Charles St. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors and $10 for students.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 7, 2014
Pro Musica Rara , one of the unsung heroes of Baltimore's performing arts scene, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next season. That's remarkable on a whole lot of levels, starting with the fact that there weren't a lot people anywhere in the music world paying much attention to original instruments and historical informed performance practice four decades ago. It's still not a field that attracts across-the-board interest among classical...
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By Robert Haskins | December 17, 1990
When Ludwig van Beethoven traveled to Vienna in 1792 at the age of 22 to study with Joseph Haydn, he carried with him a rather astonishing prophecy written by his patron, Count Waldstein: "You shall receive Mozart's spirit from Haydn's hand."This oft-repeated remark provided the raison d'etre for Pro Musica Rara's illuminating performance of fortepiano trios by the three composers at the Baltimore Museum of Art yesterday.Fortepianist and Pro Musica Artistic Director Shirley Mathews, violinist Cynthia Roberts and cellist Allen Whear are exemplary participants in the so-called "Early Music" movement.
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By Robert Haskins | October 22, 1990
Music by four composers active during the 1760s and 1770s -- a time of fertile experimentation separating the fully formed masterpieces of the High Baroque and those of the Classical eras -- was the bill of fare for Pro Musica Rara's performance yesterday at the Baltimore Museum of Art.For this opening concert of its 16th season, Pro Musica's forces were augmented by the early music violin performance expert Stanley Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie led the ensemble in symphonies by William Boyce (number III in C major)
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | January 18, 2005
For 25 or so of its 30 years, Pro Musica Rara has presented an annual program dubbed SuperBach Sunday, originally offered as a counterpoint to the Super Bowl. It's no longer specifically timed to that event, but the name stuck. The 2005 concert, held Sunday at the ensemble's cozy home base, Towson Presbyterian Church, and devoted to works by Bach and Handel, scored one touchdown after another. Since cellist Allen Whear, a longtime performer with Pro Musica Rara, became the organization's artistic director last season, the overall quality has strengthened considerably.
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By Ernest F. Imhoff and Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff | December 11, 1990
PRO MUSICA Rara will use the 220th birthday of Beethoven Sunday at the Baltimore Museum of Art to show the delicate balance of strings and piano in three trios written about the same time by the young Beethoven and the two masters he learned from, however briefly, Mozart and Haydn.The Baltimore chamber music group, now in its 16th year, plays the second concert of its five-concert season at 3:30 p.m. Sunday under Shirley Mathews, artistic director.Beethoven's Trio in E-flat (1795) was his first published work.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 15, 1996
Some concerts in recent seasons have made this listener regret the enthusiasm that once led him to bestow the sobriquet "Baltimore's premiere early music ensemble" upon Pro Musica Rara. But its program Sunday afternoon at the Baltimore Museum of Art rekindled my enthusiasm. The playing was alive and imaginative, while judgment and taste were consistently matched by splendid technique and control.The concert's guest artist was Timothy Day, the Baltimore Symphony's principal flute from 1976 to 1988 who is now Professor of Flute at the San Francisco Conservatory.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 24, 2000
A few decades ago, when the historical authenticity movement began sweeping the music world, it was common to hear complaints about how out-of-tune or just plain out-of-sorts performances on original instruments tended to sound. Not everyone who embraced the switch to gut strings or wooden flutes or valveless trumpets was up to the challenges involved. Embracing the past could be a lot easier in spirit than in reality. But today, virtuoso early-music groups are plentiful. Many musicians have successfully made the transition from modern to ancient.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | November 4, 2013
After less than a month, Pro Musica Rara is halfway through its 2013-14 season. So you'd better be paying attention or you might miss the other half, which would be a pity, since the early music group is in fine fettle these days. (The remaining concerts are in February and April.) Three weeks ago in Towson University's intimate recital hall, Pro Musica artistic director and cellist Allen Whear was joined by fine violinist Cynthia Roberts, elegant harpsichordist and brilliant recorder player Paul Lennhouts.
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By Edward Gunts, Chris Kaltenbach, Mary Carole McCauley, Rashod D. Ollison, Tim Smith, Michael Sragow and Sophia Terbush | April 16, 2009
POP MUSIC Little Anthony and the Imperials One of the best groups anchored in doo-wop, Little Anthony and the Imperials cemented its classy reputation with such pop classics as "Goin' Out of My Head" and "Hurts So Bad." Over the years, the group's songs have been reinterpreted by several pop acts and sampled in hip-hop. Little Anthony and the Imperials still sound smoothly soulful some 50 years after they first hit the charts. The group performs at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $40. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.
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January 3, 2008
SuperBach For many years, Pro Musica Rara has warmed up the winter with a program called "SuperBach Sunday." It's an occasion when the ensemble brings out some of its most appealing repertoire from the baroque era, played by some of its best musicians. Among this year's featured works are one of Bach's brilliant Brandenburg Concertos and a suite from Telemann's Don Quixote, colorful music inspired by the Cervantes novel. Cellist and Pro Musica artistic director Allen Whear and recorder soloist Gwyn Roberts are among the performers in this trip down an 18th-century memory lane.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | April 10, 2007
For the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the seemingly innocuous programming theme of string instruments has actually turned into a case of "and now for something completely different." Sure, a standard violin concerto by Mozart has popped up along the way this season. But next month, in a concert postponed from a snowy Valentine's Day, the BCO will offer a violin concerto and other string instrument-focused works by a largely forgotten Beethoven contemporary, Ignaz Pleyel.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | March 27, 2007
Nations do it (at least sometimes), so why not music groups? Get together, that is, and pool their resources for a good cause. Thanks to underwriting from two anonymous donors, that's just what happened Sunday afternoon at the Peabody Institute, where the stage was shared by the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Pro Musica Rara and two Peabody organizations -- the Baltimore Baroque Band and Peabody Renaissance Ensemble. Bringing all of these voices and period instruments together was a program of music associated with courts of Europe, from the regal team of Ferdinand and Isabella in the late 15th century to the days of England's Queen Anne about two centuries later.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | January 30, 2007
Lynn Harrell begged the audience's indulgence for his fashion slip-up Sunday night at Shriver Hall. The cellist, a little distracted by the birth of a son a few days earlier in Houston, forgot to pack the black shoes that were to go with his suit. Given how compellingly Harrell played, it wouldn't have mattered a bit had he forgotten his pants, too. It's always rewarding to hear this man make music. There is an openness and honesty in the way he communicates what is on the page of score and, more significantly, what's underneath.
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By Robert Haskins | November 11, 1991
J. S. Bach's first harpsichord concerto in D Minor (BWV 1052), the largest and most imposing of his concertos for that instrument, inaugurated the genre of the keyboard concerto. The work served as the focal point of an attractive concert by Pro Musica Rara, Baltimore's early music ensemble, yesterday afternoon at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.Bach made each of his harpsichord concertos as part of performances with the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, which he directed during most of his final years in that city.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 14, 2003
Just as familiar old paintings take on new life when centuries of grime are carefully removed from them, familiar old musical scores have a way of becoming fresher when centuries of performing traditions are erased. This process isn't easy. Players have to rethink just about everything, to learn their way around time-trapped instruments and historic concepts of music-making; listeners have to cope with different sounds and different manners of expression. Music long taken for granted is suddenly not so safe, comfortable and predictable.
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November 9, 2006
Verdi's `Nabucco' The lowdown -- To the uninitiated, Nabucco might sound like another Japanese puzzle, but to opera fans it means a stirring drama with music to match. Nabucco (the Italianized name for Nebuchadnezzar) was Guiseppe Verdi's first great hit. In addition to telling a tale of Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews, the opera conveyed a subtle political message that galvanized the composer's Italian public, a message about freedom from foreign domination. Baltimore Opera Company unveils a new production of Nabucco this week starring vibrant baritone Mark Rucker in the title role.
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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | May 2, 2006
Pro Musica Rara occupies quite a specialized niche, performing mostly 18th- and early 19th-century repertoire on period instruments. Such a focus may not necessarily start stampedes at the box office, but the value is considerable. Getting in touch with the musical past is an endlessly rewarding endeavor, and Pro Musica Rara does it with determination, scholarship and, increasingly, technical elan. For its 32nd season, the organization will demonstrate those qualities in a new place, the Towson University Center for the Arts.
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