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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.


Concert Roundup, Mostly

I shall complete this! I swear!

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra wants you to know that they consider Dvorak and Brahms lyrical. I know this because this week’s concert is titled “Lyrical Dvorak and Brahms.”  For the former, his eighth symphony gets the nod, and in the case of the latter, it’s the second piano concerto. November 15 & 16 at the Meyerhoff; November 17 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • I can’t seem to get the National Symphony Orchestra page to load, and according to downforeveryoneorjustme.com it’s not just me. I’ll have to check back later, but never fear, I’ll update this page in a couple hours! Or as soon as the page goes back up. You know. EDITED TO ADD: Okay, the site is back! And you have two choices of concert to boot! First is an educational presentation/concert hybrid wherein conductor Vasily Petrenko explores Shostakovich‘s fourth symphony on November 16. Or if you prefer, on November 15 & 17 you can get the Shostakovich plus Tchaikovsky‘s famous violin concerto, although minus the multimedia presentation. [ See the Shostakovich! ] [ See the Tchaikovsky too! ]
  • The American University orchestra has a series of concerts this weekend, but more on that tomorrow! 😀
  • This week at Strathmore: jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller. [ See the calendar! ]

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

Early Concert Roundup Consort

Edited to add that I really should’ve edited this intro before I published. Oh well. Hi!

  • A nifty lineup this week at the Baltimore Symphony OrchestraTchaikovsky‘s fourth symphony, Bartok‘s third piano concerto, and selections from Dvorak‘s Slavonic Dances. Really can’t argue with any of that (unfortunately; I’m so much wittier in opposition). October 19 & 21 at the Meyerhoff; October 20 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • Speaking of the BSO, they’re still looking for people to sign on to their Ambassador program, wherein you receive points for sharing BSO-related content on your social networks; these points can then be turned in for prizes. [ Learn more! ]
  • No National Symphony Orchestra concert this week.
  • The Bach Sinfonia starts of the season with everyone’s favorite Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel, plus works by Avison, Boyce, and BondOctober 21. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: late Renaissance and early Baroque music with Guido’s Ear, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, D.C.-area songwriters. [ See the calendar! ]

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

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…

Continue reading

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!

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! ]

Concert Roundup: Signature Edition

Actually, there’s nothing particularly signature about this concert roundup. I was just having trouble thinking up a title and it says “Signature Edition” on my copy of Dragon Age 2 (because I pre-ordered it and got the Black Emporium for free, that’s why).

  • Aha! The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is trying to placate me. Why else would they title their concert “Beethoven and Dvorak“? Ludwig’s fourth piano concerto features, plus Antonin’s Carnival Overture (fun!), Kodaly‘s Dances of Galanta (Hungary represent!) and Janacek (I’ll give you three guesses as to which piece and the first two don’t count because it’s Taras Bulba, duh). March 16 & 18 at the Meyerhoff and March 17 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • Oh, hey! The National Symphony Orchestra wants to please me, too. They’re performing a concert opera version of Beethoven’s Fidelio! Don’t worry, there’ll be subtitles; you can read while you’re also trying to see things, right? March 15 – 17. [ See it! ]
  • During matinees, however, the NSO is All Strauss, all the time. Ya got your overtures, ya got your waltzes, ya got your polkas; you couldn’t pay me to go.* But my dad just LOVES that beautiful blue Danube, so maybe you do too. March 16. [ See it! ]
  • A smattering of upcoming Strathmore performances: a rock violinist, a NOT rock violinist, DC a capella groups, a classical pianist. [ See the schedule! ]

* This is a lie. Make me an offer.

Concert Roundup Up and Away

Good morning, campers! Are you ready to find out what you’re doing this weekend?

  • Option number one: the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is cheating. No, wait, that’s not true; it’s Sarasate who cheated with his fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen. Next time you write your own fantasy, young man; none of this downloading scores off the internet. Also on the menu: MacMillan‘s The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Prokofiev’s fifth symphony. February 23 & 26 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you want to hang with the BSO but feel that only Prokofiev is worth your time (that’s a little snobby, sir, but I see where you’re coming from), Marin Alsop will help deconstruct and contextualize the piece in another one of those snappy Off the Cuff concerts. It’s like a music history lecture with a live orchestra, and Alsop’s pretty funny! February 24 at Strathmore and February 25 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Maybe just music isn’t enough for you anymore. Maybe you need acrobatics to catch your interest. If so, the National Symphony Orchestra has you covered with one of those crazy Cirque de la Symphonie performances. The NSO Pops will play as circus performers of all stripes performing feats of daring. Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Khachaturian are all promised. February 23 – 25. [ See it! ]
  • A smattering of upcoming Strathmore performances: a cello and piano duet, a Bach concert, a jazz vocalist. [ Check out the full schedule! ]

Remember, if you’d like me to include your upcoming concert in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.