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modern composers

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A Concert Roundup Carol

Looking for some respite from the relentless holiday cheer? Well, you’re not getting any. Suck it up, Mr. Scrooge.

  • Speaking of Mr. Scrooge, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra premiers a musical version of A Christmas Carol this week, from the composer of the ever-popular Too Hot to Handel Bob Christianson, whom I believe will be there. The Baltimore City College Choir joins a handful of soloists in all your favorite roles, from Tiny Tim to an assortment of chronology-obsessed ghosts. December 16 & 17 at the Meyerhoff. Oh, and there’s a party afterward. [ See it! ] [ Party time! ]
  • Miss the BSO’s Messiah last week? No problem — this week the National Symphony Orchestra tackles Handel’s Christmas oratorio. This one has different people — like the University of Maryland Concert Choir — and is in D.C. instead of Baltimore, but I’m pretty sure the basic principle is the same. [ See it! ]

Concert Roundup and the Sundance Kid

Good morning, collective sunshine! It’s… well, it’s rainy and uniformly gray over here. And it’s supposed to be cold over the weekend, which is why you’ll want to forgo any sort of outdoor activity and stay within the safe confines of the concert hall. Take your pick:

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra puts on quite a production with an old school-style oratorio by Arthur HonnegarJoan of Arc. Marin Alsop is at the podium for this vocal and orchestral production, with Caroline Dhavernas in the title role. It promises to be quite a spectacle. November 17 & 18 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Over at the National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Christoph Eschenbach has put together a program featuring Leonidas Kavakos playing the famous Brahms violin concerto and, more importantly, Beethoven‘s sixth symphony, the “Pastoral.” I practically cut my classical teeth on the “Pastoral;” great stuff. November 17 – 19. [ See it! ]
  • Although this alternative NSO family concert aimed at kids sounds so interesting that I really wish I were a small child again (this, admittedly, is not the only reason). NSO musician Glenn Donnellan made an electric violin out of a Louisville Slugger. How cool is that? So cool that he’s going to play Van Halen on it. Well, also Vivaldi and what have you. November 19. [ See it! ]

Not Without My Concert Roundup

But first! A personal plea.

The nonprofit arm of my ballet studio, Performing Arts Repertory Company, is in a DC-area fundraising competition. For November 9 only, Give To The Max will track how much money is donated to PARC, as well as how many individuals donate. Depending on our ranking in both categories, we could win additional funds, which would go toward dance scholarships, workshops, and education and outreach programs, among other things. A noble cause — so you want to help, right? Donate now, before you forget — it’s tax-deductible!

I give you this concert recap in thanks for your donation. If you didn’t donate, I hope you feel really guilty right now.

  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra likes to be in America — this week’s concert features Copland‘s Appalachian Spring, in addition to Old American Songs. A solid work, one people will come out for, except in this case what I’m sure they’re actually coming for is Gershwin‘s An American in Paris overture. Edward CollinsTragic overture is also in the mix. Marin Alsop to conduct, William Sharp to baritonate; November 10 & 13 at the Meyerhoff.  [See it!]
  • This week at the National Symphony Orchestra it’s The Return of Leonard Slatkin! On the conductor’s docket: Clyne, a Rachmaninoff symphony, and a Saint-Saen cello concerto performed by Gautier Capucon. November 10-12. [See it!]

Updated to add: Got this from Benevolent Dictator Jamie:

Emerson String Quartet
Baird Auditorium
Natural History Museum
November 19 at 6 PM

This concert offers an exclusive opportunity to hear the quartet
perform in an intimate setting with excellent acoustics.

Metro Stop: Federal Triangle
Walk south on 12th Street, and cross Constitution Avenue to the Natural History
Museum on the left. (NOT on the National Mall side.)

Ticket prices for students: $10*
Rush tickets are available for purchase starting at
5:30 p.m. on November 19th at the door
*Valid student ID required when purchasing and redeeming tickets.  Two tickets per student ID, per concert.  No refunds or exchanges available.  Subject to availability.

Son of the Concert Roundup

No BSO concert this week, so let’s leap directly into the National Symphony Orchestra’s schedule. They’ve got two!

  • Okay, unimportant stuff out of the way first: Shepherd‘s Wanderlust, Messaien‘s Le Réveil des Oiseaux, and Benjamin‘s Duet. Yes, I realize I just called three composers unimportant, but they will not be offended when they consider that the concert concludes with Stravinsky‘s Firebird suite. Yes. May I have this infernal dance? Oliver Knussen conducts, with Peter Serkin on the piano; November 3 through 5. [See it!]
  • If you have a small child, or like to be addressed as if you were a small child (you should probably look into why that is), or you like your stuffed animal to accompany you wherever you go (ditto), there will be a family matinee on November 5 aimed at ages 3 to 5. The program includes a variety of kid-friendly pieces, including Baby Elephant Walk and The Swan. Teddy bears are invited. Honest. [See it!]

Concert Roundup: The Revenge

Let’s see what the musicians are up to this week, shall we?

  • If you happen to be hopping about in D.C., the National Symphony Orchestra will be performing Mussourgsky‘s Night on Bald Mountain. So already you want to come. In addition, Gidon Kremer will perform the Sibelius violin concerto, plus Liadov‘s The Enchanted Lake and Nielsen‘s fifth symphony. That’s October 6 through 9. See it!
  • Alternatively, if you happen to be hopping about Trafalgar Square, London (and why not?), @LMAorchestra tells me that The Gershwin Family (yes, some relation) will be performing a program of classical music from the movies, including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Debussy, and a bunch more. It all goes down on October 6. See it!

Remember, if you have a concert coming up next week, you should let me know.

Turn the tide of blog posts!

Ah, yes. Fall is here. School starts, the weather gets nippy — it’s awful, isn’t it?

Good thing the BSO season gets rolling too, or we’d have nothing to lift our desolation. This week cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins Marin Alsop in her rightful place on the conductor’s podium in a program entitled “Tchaikovsky and Dvorak.” A little prosaic, but certainly descriptive — the program features Dvorak’s cello concerto and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” symphony. Oh, and this: “Baltimore-based James Lee III’s Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan depicts Harriet Tubman’s yearning for emancipation, drawing on Negro Spirituals to express her journey from slavery to freedom.” Interesting! See it at the Meyerhoff on Friday, September 23 at 8 pm, at Strathmore on Thursday, September 24 at 8 pm, and then again at the Meyerhoff on Sunday, September 25 at 3 pm.

Okay, I’m rushing through this one a bit ’cause I have a question for you about these upcoming BSO concert posts. I’ve been doing them for almost two years now, and when I was an intern there it tied in perfectly and played right into my blog thesis project. Now that the scope has widened a bit, I want to know — do you like them? Do you read them? Do they interest you, even if you’re in no position to go? Tell me please!

Gala review (a conversation piece)

Note: The below post has been slightly modified from the text as it was originally published. If you’d like to see the full version, email me.

Last Saturday my dear friend Rebekah and I hiked over to the Meyerhoff to take in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening gala. I could just straight tell you what I thought, but I figured why not switch it up a bit? So here’s Rebekah and I indulging in a little post-concert discussion. Rebekah is a cello teacher and Peabody musicology grad student, so she’s more than qualified to weigh in. Two opinions for the price of one — how can you resist?

Jenn: First of all, I want to say that the absolute best part of the concert was when David Little almost knocked out Hilary Hahn by accident.

Rebekah: The surprise on her face was the best part because it was so genuine and she seems so nice.

J: Like a little elf!

R: I think she looks adorable!

J: The concert opened with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which is of course a seminal work, and it always kinda gets me. I’m a documented sucker for horns. Alsop took the opening a little fast for my liking, but those horns were gold.

R: I actually… well, when you say fast, you mean she took it fast or she started the concert fast?

Continue reading

Take me to your conductor

I took a class in college called “Sci Fi and Film,” and one of the films we watched was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A classic. I hated it. (I have this thing about loyalty, and the main character was a jerk to his family. I do not forgive him.)

All the same, I did love this scene — when the humans make first contact with the aliens. Do they communicate with binary code? With advanced mathematics? With fancy translators? No, they do it with music. Mr. Williams, this is one point to you.

By the way, I had a hectic weekend and forgot to post reminders about voting in the Composer Cagematch! So I’ve extended the voting period to tomorrow at 9 pm — don’t miss the voting window.

Super Jurassic Star-Terrestrial Jones

Can we get a mashup? I mean, aside from this one?

Oh, John Williams. You get a beating around here. Who could forget this ballin’ article? Heck, the fact that the BSO’s concert this week is “Music of John Williams” inspired Not Quite Classical Week.

But I’ll tell you, the stuff you borrow is the good stuff. Your borrowing taste is good. And I’ve been known to hum the theme to Jurassic Park now and again. I will forever prefer Goldsmith’s Trek to your Wars, but all the same, Johnny Doubleya, let’s call a truce, shall we? I mean, for now. At least till this concert series is over.

If you want to prove to JDubs that you don’t hold a grudge, or never had one in the first place, the BSO offers a program of All Williams, All the Time. Andrew Grams shall conduct in three places: at Strathmore on Thursday, July 21 at 8 pm, at the Meyerhoff on Friday, July 22 at 7:30 pm, and on Saturday, July 23 at 8 pm it’ll all go down at Oregon Ridge, so bring your picnic blanket.

Okay, JW. We’re cool. For now.

Doesn’t seem very traditional to me

This week’s BSO concert is a tribute to John Williams. As such, I deem it Not Quite Classical Music Week. And as such, here’s something so Not Quite Classical, it’s not quite a Broadway musical. Like this one! That Gwen Stefani is a roof fiddlin’ card.