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This tag is associated with 18 posts

Concert Roundup Got Rhythm

  • Who doesn’t love Gershwin? NO WAIT DON’T ANSWER THAT I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. And neither does the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; their program this week is all-Gershwin, with big’uns like An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, and more. July 25 at Strathmore; July 26 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra continues to pound them out with multiple concerts at Wolf Trap over the next couple of days: Tchaikovsky‘s 1812 Overture on July 26; a patriotic program of GershwinCopland, and the Brubecks on July 27; and Broadway favorites on July 28. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Free summer outdoor concerts continue, plus outdoor concerts for kids. [ See the calendar! ]

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


I think I hear a ghost

My grandmother doesn’t see very well, and as such one of her favorite pastimes when we’re together is to request that I look things up one my iPhone. During my visits we’ll watch old movies, and she’ll say “Look up when this person died” or “I wonder if he was ever in anything else; look that up.” So I fire up the browser app, head over to Wikipedia, and find out.

Our most recent sojourn was through The Sound of Music, and as the first nuns appeared I remembered that Marni Nixon got some actual screen time in the film, as Sister Sophia. You know about Marni Nixon, right? She was the ghost singer to the stars, working for Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, and Marilyn Monroe, among others.

Curious about her current whereabouts I looked her up of my own accord, and was fascinated to discover that she recorded vocals for such great composers as Schoenberg, Webern, Copland, and Bernstein. I had no idea! Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to locate any real footage of these performances, but I did find this fascinating interview, wherein she talks about how she just dubbed as a means of paying for her singing classes, and more. Find out what it was like for classically trained singer back in the day, where if they found it you dubbed, you were finished!

I Coulda Been a Concert Roundup

Because the BSO is playing Bernstein’s On the Waterfront, and… shut up.

  • But first, talking! As the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra website says: “Learn about Leonard Bernstein‘s ‘Kaddish’ Symphony from BSO Maestra Marin Alsop in discussion with Chazzan Emanuel Perlman of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Program is followed by a Q & A session and a light dessert reception.” Plus everyone who attends gets a 20% discount on the “Kaddish” concert. AND you get dessert. Win-win. September 19 at the Gordon Center as far as I can tell. [ See it! ]
  • Like I said, the BSO starts off its regular season with, oh, what’s that guys name? Oh yeah; Gil Shaham, playing the Barber violin concerto. No biggie. Also Bernstein‘s On the Waterfront symphonic suite and Copland‘s third symphony. September 20 & 21 at the Meyerhoff; September 22 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The NSO says: wait for it…
  • This week at Strathmore: a viola and guitar duo. Not even gonna try to sell that one (oh, I kid ’cause I love). [ See the calendar! ]

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

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…

Continue reading

Composer Cagematch! Round 4: Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky

Oh now just what in the hell was that.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Brahms over STRAVINSKY? Whatever happened to Team Igor? I feel like I went in for the trust fall and you didn’t catch me, readership. Harrumph.

Well, fine. I have some devilish plans for Johannes in the future. For now, I must collect myself and announce that in this corner, he turned Verdi Blue! It’s


And in this corner, he serenaded Copland right out of the ring! It’s


Tchaikovsky discovers America, indeed.

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Grieg vs. Brahms

I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

And by “shocked” I of course mean “not remotely surprised.” How about you? Are you beyond flabbergasted that, in this late-round fight, Tchaikovsky took down Copland? Although in fairness, I do want to point out that I never expected Copland to advance past his first-round competition against Dvorak, so a round of applause for a solid competitor, who still loses so that’s the last we’ll be thinking about him.

Now let’s finish up round three with a match that should be similarly fraught with suspense. But first I just wanted to point out that when criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear and frighten all who see or hear the cry goes up both far and near for


(As a side note, he choreographed Saint-Saens a whole new danse; he’s also in a corner.)

And in this corner, he proved Mahler to be no titan! It’s


Battle… FIGHT!

P.S. When Polly’s in trouble I am not slow. It’s hip, hip, hip and away I go!

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Copland vs. Tchaikovsky

Triumph of the American spirit!

I’m not going to beat around the bush, so to speak — it was a tough fight, with both parties taking the lead at times, but ultimately Gershwin eeked it out over Verdi. People, THIS is what the Composer Cagematch! series is all about. I have seen Verdi listed on a number of top 10 great composer lists, and Gershwin none. If pressed, I bet even a lot of the Gershwin voters would admit that, technically, Verdi is the better composer. But Gershwin! Gershwin, it seems, is the composer you love. And that’s why he proceeds to the next round.

Well done, George, you scrappy little American, you. You’ve done your country proud. Can you brother in citizenship do the same? It’s time to find out, because in this corner, he pushed Britten over a cliff! It’s


And in this corner, he stabbed Rimsky-Korsakov with a spindle and sent him to bed! It’s


I don’t think anyone’s going to argue over who’s the better composer (although who knows?). But! Who. Do. You. Love?

Fanfare for the Concert Roundup

Buh buh baaaaah… buh bah baaaaaah… baaaah baaaah buuuuuuuh… BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH. (I speak fluent onomatopoeia.)

  • Get ready to [insert alcohol joke here], because this week’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert is “Tchaikovsky’s Fifth.” Colin Currie will leave my apartment long enough to solo on your two favorite fanfares: Copland‘s Fanfare for the Common Man and Tower‘s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, plus the premier of a Higdon percussion concerto. And then you purists can have your eponymous Tchaik. March 22 at Strathmore; March 23 & 24 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Not concerts in the strictest sense, but of note: the BSO‘s subscription packages for next season are now available. They’re also accepting applications to audition in the 2012 O Say Can You Sing? national anthem competition, and if you don’t sing, maybe you play? The BSO Academy is still taking applications.
  • The National Symphony Orchestra believes you should hear Dvorak‘s Stabat Mater and ONLY Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. You may do so on March 22 – 24. [ See it! ]
  • No, wait! The NSO is just kidding. The NSO believes that sometimes your Dvorak should be fortified with some vitamin Janacek. Get your weekly allowance with Dvorak serenades in D minor and E major; then add a Janacek concertina and capriccio. March 23. [ See it! ]
  • This Week at Strathmore! Piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick (if you come to that one, stop by the concierge desk and say hi!), a heavy metal cello ensemble that isn’t Apocalyptica, an all-Mozart program (blehhh), a soul electric guitarist, a Russian military and folk song and dance troupe. [ See the calendar! ]

Creepy pants all the time get some

Hello and welcome once again to that great holiday, National Letdown Day. Oh, it is a great day indeed, a day when we all look back at the Christmas of yesterday (literally) and think, “That’s all?” And, too, it is my birthday, which is why I have spent most of my afternoon contemplating how every year of life I enjoy it less. National Letdown Day, ladies and gentlemen — it’s all downhill from here!

And so I think it fitting that we all celebrate with this Stravinsky rendition of “Happy Birthday” so abstract as to be practically unrecognizable. Thanks for the submission, Eric!

And just for the hell of it, here’s the Copland version, mostly for Ozawa-san (what was Seiji Ozawa doing conducting “Happy Birthday”? Did Sesame Street stop returning his calls? For shame, PBS!).

And here’s my favorite Strong Bad email, because it’s MY birthday, dammit.

Composer Cagematch! Round 2: Tchaikovsky vs. Rimsky-Korsakov

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder; not bird nor plane nor even frog — it’s Aaron Copland, everybody!

Yes, the scrappy American took down Dvorak when all said it couldn’t be done, and then, once again the dark horse in his round 2 fight against ol’ Benny Britten, he bested the English and beat him by one. Fly your flag, patriots all! (By the way, that low grinding sound you hear is my mother gnashing her teeth in disgust.)

Now it’s time to paint the town red, because in this corner, he went all Black Swan on Rachmaninoff’s ass! It’s


And in this corner, he orchestrated Mussourgsky’s demise! It’s


I know. I know. It’s hard. I like them both too. Now suck it up and pick one.