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Covetous Concert Roundup


  • It’s not faaaaair. I want to go hear the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform Prokofiev‘s Peter and the Wolf! I don’t see why I’m not invited just because I neither am nor possess a small child! Does anyone want to lend me a small child? Preferably a used one that could come back slightly damaged without causing incident? April 5, 6, 11 & 12 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • It’s not faaaaaaaaaaaaaaair. I want to go hear and see the BSO play the score to Fantasia AND Fantasia 2000 while the movies are projected on a screen! Do they not realize how I feel about Disney? Did they not read this article? Or this one? Why does no one ever send me tickets to things?! April 5 & 6 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, over at the National Symphony Orchestra, it’s none other than renowned pianist Emanuel Ax, everybody, with a concert of AlbertChopin, and Dvorak. But who cares what he’s playing? He’s Emanuel Ax. April 4 – 6. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreKristin Lee busts out a program of modern solo violin; drummer Isabelle De Leon. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.


Unto Us a Concert Roundup Is Given

  • OH, UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN! Yes, my friends, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presents us with the first Handel‘s Messiah of the season, because it it illegal to schedule an orchestra concert series without including it. But hey, it’s not like the holidays would feel right without the “Hallelujah” chorus, no? December 7 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or, if you have small children and you’d like to catch a matinee, the BSO is also offering an abbreviated version of Tchaikovsky‘s equally required Nutcracker, with narration and dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts. December 8 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • If, on the other hand, you’re trying to escape the holiday season as long as humanly possible, the National Symphony Orchestra offers a program devoid of the holly jolly – with Lutoslawski, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky‘s third symphony, which is 100% sugarplum free. Yuja Wang on the piano, bee tee dubs. December 6 – 8. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Canadian-Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, another Messiah from the National Philharmonic, a holiday school choir, klezmer music. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Concert Roundup: Scarypants Edition

Happy Halloween! You know what’s really scary? Not having your concert attendance for the week all planned out. Here ya go:

  • Oh boy. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra proves that it is positively MAGICAL with a program entitled “Wizards and Wands: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a title which I will look upon dubiously forevermore. Still, aside from the admittedly catchy Williams Potter music, and you can never really go wrong with the Dukas. November 3 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra makes up for their lack of a concert a couple weeks ago by offering no less than three different programs this week. The first features Beethoven‘s Missa Solemnis, November 1 – 3. The second, on November 2, is a chamber music performance of all-Beethoven, proving that this Eschenbach fellow has great taste. And finally, on November 4, Lang-Lang plays nothing but Mozart and Chopin. Of course. [ See the Missa! ] [ See the chamber Beethoven! ] [ See Lang-Lang! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Joshua Bell, delta bluesman Keb’ Mo’, latin dance. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Please turn on your cell phones

I’m pretty sure this is what Tchaikovsky always had in mind anyway.

I just want you to be prepared

Hey, remember a month or two ago how I picked out some Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts that tickled my particular fancy? Let’s do the same thing for Strathmore, which offers such a dizzying array of concerts over the course of the season that I’m sure attempting to process it all can be daunting. Never fear – I’ve picked out all the classical concerts that have so far been announced, so you’ll know what not to miss in advance. You’re quite welcome.

  • Duo Amaral, Oct 12 – Classical guitar featuring composers like Rodrigo and Albeniz.
  • Guido’s Ear, Oct 18 – Pre- and early Baroque – think Monteverdi, Zanetti, Merula.
  • Dali Quartet, Oct 28 – Spice things up with some Latin American chamber music.
  • Jennifer Koh’s Bach and Beyond, Part 1 (Nov 14) and Part 2 (Feb 28) – Bach violin partitas and sonatas mixed with newer works influenced by the great composer.
  • George Li, Jan 12 – A prodigal pianist, playing Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin.
  • China National Symphony, Feb 1 – A bunch of new works by Chinese composers plus BEETHOVEN’S SEVENTH SYMPHONY.
  • Mattias Jacobsson, Mar 21 – The classical guitarist plays the Bach Lute Suites.
  • Kristin Lee, April 4 – Gershwin’s Three Preludes on the violin! Fun!
  • Cameron Carpenter, April 12 – Well. I dare say I’ll never look at the organ quite the same way again.
  • Maurizio Pollini, April 14 – As if I needed to introduce this one. Not sure what he’s playing, but my money’s on some Chopin.
  • Marian Anderson String Quartet, April 25 – Prize-winning and Dvorak-playing. Nice.
  • Mak Grgic, May 9 – Another classical guitarist, this one has put together a bunch of neato transcriptions of works written by Ravel, Debussy, Brahms, and more, plus traditional guitar pieces.

So there you have it – all the straight-up classical music programs in the Strathmore season. SO FAR. Don’t worry; I’ll keep you apprised of these and other concerts as the year goes by. Good heavens, is it almost autumn already?

Haven’t violists suffered enough?

Well, no. They haven’t. There’s plenty more abuse in their future, never fear. But as we slog our way through that early summer wasteland of concertlessness (turns out the cruelest month is June), allow me to inject a little levity into your life. I’ve been meaning to tell this joke forever, but the viola joke has always taken priority. Not today!

Chopin and Dvorak decided that what their music really needed was some inspiration from nature, so they packed their gear and went on a camping trip. When they still hadn’t returned two weeks later it was determined that a search party should be sent to make sure they were okay. Well, when the seekers located the composers’ camp, they found an absolute mess. Ink and paper were positively everywhere, and in the midst of it all, a pervasive, sticky expanse of honey.

As the search party stared at this in some confusion, they suddenly heard the crackling of forest footsteps behind them, followed by a great roar. Two enormous bears came lumbering out of the gloom, the fangs gleaming with slavering malice. The lead searcher, thinking quickly, lifted his gun and shot the bears in the head, one-two, in an impressive show of marksmanship.

Already knowing in their hearts how Chopin and Dvorak had met their ends, the search party glumly examined the bears, discovering them to be a male and female. They sliced open the she-bear and, sure enough, the Polish composer’s partially-digested body came sliding out. It was then they concluded that the Czech was in the male.

Please note: I do not condone the shooting of bears. If confronted with a bear, I recommend you hold very still and accept your fate as necessary. If it seems your death is inevitable, you may as well get a hug in there. I know I’ve always wanted to.

Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match


  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*


  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*


  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms


Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

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Chop chop

I took in a drama course my senior year of high school and wrote a brief play based on T. S. Eliot’s poem “Portrait of a Lady,” a poem in which Chopin figures prominently. The girl I cast as the titular lady said “Chop-in,” and was surprised when I corrected her. (This paragraph is meant to illustrate how I can be a pretentious twit sometimes. Discuss!)

Currently, the middle school girls at my ballet studio are dancing to a piece by Chopin, and they wrote character sketches to fuel the expression of their steps. The spellings have been creative — Chopan, Shopin, and my personal favorite:


Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Stravinsky vs. Bartok

AHA! Finally I get a win!

In the last match of the second round, you chose Gershwin over Chopin to advance. Handshakes all ’round, guys. Good show.

And that brings us to round three, everybody — we’re less than ten matches away from crowning a winner. But before we can get started, I’d like to tell you a story.

A few weeks ago I stayed for a bit after ballet class to practice a dance we’re learning set to Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta; absolutely amazing, amazing stuff.* After I had run through it a few times, a lady from class came up to me and said, “So does this music just drive you crazy?”


“This music. It’s so… out there. Like Stravinsky just drives me nuts.”

I made some gentle protest in a nod-and-smile, nod-and-smile sort of way because anyone who doesn’t like Bartok OR Stravinsky should be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats, but whatevs. The point is… well, the point is that… the point is…

…that in this corner, he La Mer-dered Debussy! (All right, hot shot, YOU think of one.) It’s


And in this corner, he wrote Schoenberg a whole new set of compositional rules! It’s


So tell me… how would you like to be driven mad?

*In the interest of fairness I should note that Stravinsky also wrote amazing, amazing stuff. Petrouchka, for example.

Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Gershwin vs. Chopin

In the immortal words of The Sandlot: You’re KILLING me, Smalls.

I threw Verdi into the ring with a wince, guilt-ridden over the fact that I had no one stronger to defend against the mighty Handel. And what does Giuseppe do? Grinds Georg into a pulp and bakes him into a pie like some kinda classical Titus Andronicus. A late pro-Handel rush narrowed the gap, so that takes away a bit of the sting, but still. Verdi wins. Drat. (Also, I would totally order Handel pie, if only for the pun.)

Let’s move on quickly, because there’s only one match left in round 2. They are an odd match, and I am determined to arrange the battle with no preconceived notions.

And so in this corner, who could ask for anything more? Well, Berstein could. It’s


And in this corner, he’s got a little Liszt! It’s


I don’t know, guys. They’re the only two left. One of them is bound to show up on your iPod more often than the other, and get skipped less. Who is it?