Artsmash Critic Tim Smith covers classical music, theater and visual arts in Baltimore and beyond

New South Baltimore concert series among summer music options

Tim Smith
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

With the warm weather comes an array of free concerts covering multiple genres at venues in a variety of Baltimore neighborhoods. Here’s a rundown on some of the activity.

SoBo Summer Music Series

New this year is the SoBo Summer Music Series, an enterprise of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, partnering with the Youth Resiliency Institute, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, Catholic Charities, and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership.

With an aim to bringing music and attention to various South Baltimore neighborhoods, the concert series will emphasize jazz, blues and contemporary house music.

First up will be trombonist Reginald Cyntje and his group, performing their blend of jazz, Afrobeat and Caribbean music, at 5:30 p.m. June 2 at Lakeland Park, 2921 Stranden Road.

Among other artists on the June schedule are jazz pianist/composer Lafayette Gilchrist and the Sonic Trip Masters All Stars (June 7); the multi-genre duo Violet Belle (June 14); Rufus Roundtree and Da B’More Brass Factory, blending New Orleans jazz band influences with R&B and more (June 29) — all at Middle Branch Park, 3301 Waterview Ave.

July’s lineup includes jazz trumpeter Theljon Allen at Lakeland Park (July 7); and blues/rock/jazz musicians Vann Durham and Ricardo Valentine at Middle Branch Park (July 12).

The next month will see DC Cuban All Stars, featuring saxophonist Luis Faife and vocalist Juan Del Risco (Aug. 4); and the Craig Alston Band (Aug. 18) at Carroll Park, 1515 Washington Blvd. Singer-songwriter Amelia White performs Aug. 25 at Solo Gibbs Park, 1044 Leadenhall St.

Wrapping up the series Sept. 8 will be JaneliaSoul, a world music band, at Westport Boys and Girls Club, 2343 Norfolk St.

These are just some of the concerts scheduled; other music and dance workshops also are planned. For more information, call 410-752-8632, or go to promotionandarts.org/sobo-summer-music-series.

Summer in the Squares

The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy opens its annual Summer in the Squares programming with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids Jazz Ensemble at 7 p.m. May 30 in the West Square of Mount Vernon Place. Professional musicians will join the students for the concert.

To make this series-opener even more festive, a free reception will be provided, co-sponsored by the newly launched Hotel Revival. In the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled.

The series will continue through August, featuring Impulse Combo, a jazz group from Baltimore School for the Arts (June 6), indie band Ebb & Nova (June 13), singer-songwriter Letitia VanSant (June 20), Blake Meister Jazz Quartet (July 11), Baltimore Brass (July 18), Classical Revolution Baltimore (Aug. 1), the African drum and dance troupe N-Chat (Aug. 8), Peabody Harpists (Aug. 15) and, for the finale, Symphony Number One (Aug. 29). Bring your own blanket or lawn chairs.

Other free activities, including films and yoga classes, are also part of Summer in the Sqaures. For more information, go to MVPConservancy.org/events/, or Facebook.com/mountvernonplace.

Serenade Choral Festival

Although primarily a Washington-area event, the ambitious and extraordinarily diverse Serenade Choral Festival, presented by Classical Movements, the leading tour company for orchestral and vocal ensembles, does stretch into Baltimore each year. The eighth annual festival will include two excursions into Charm City, bringing several choirs for free concerts.

This year’s theme for Serenade, June 25 to July 2, is the centennial of the South African leader and visionary Nelson Mandela. That theme will be reflected in much of the programming and other activities by choral groups coming in from several nations.

Baltimore’s own Singing Sensations Youth Choir will be one of the featured groups in the festival, 7 p.m. June 28 at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St.

Also raising their voices that evening will be the Olga Vocal Ensemble, an a cappella quintet from the Netherlands; the Canadian ensemble Countermeasure; and Tiharea, a trio from Madagascar.

At 6:30 p.m. June 30, an outdoor performance in Patterson Park (27 S. Patterson Park Ave.) will bring together India’s multilingual Chennai Children’s Choir, comprising disadvantaged youths; the all-female Ensemble Tyva Kyzy from the Tuva Repulic, specializing in Tuvan throat-singing; and Venezuelan folk atist Betsayda Machado and her ensemble Perranda El Clavo.

Serenade will also present concerts at the Kennedy Center, as well as venues in Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. For more information, go to classicalmovements.com.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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