Classical music

Eminent conductor Lorin Maazel dies at 84

Eminent conductor Lorin Maazel dies at 84

Lorin Maazel, an unusually brilliant conductor with an extraordinary mind, uncanny technique and an ability to sculpt performances of remarkable expressive beauty, died Sunday at the age of 84 in Virginia. A statement released by the Castleton Festival, which he and his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, founded at their expansive, idyllic country estate, attributed the cause of death to complications from pneumonia.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony appoints Markus Stenz principal guest conductor

Baltimore Symphony appoints Markus Stenz principal guest conductor

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has appointed Markus Stenz as principal guest conductor for a three-year term commencing with the 2015-2016 season. The German conductor, who is principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, made a sensational BSO debut in 2012.  Read more ...

Boxed set of Mahler recordings, 1903-1940, essential for composer's fans

Boxed set of Mahler recordings, 1903-1940, essential for composer's fans

Every July 7 -- Gustav Mahler's birthday -- I try to set aside some time for listening to his music, which has long been an essential part of my life. As I've written before, the experience of encountering Mahler for the first time changed everything for me.  Read more ...

For World Cup, Marin Alsop leads Sao Paulo orchestra in Beethoven's 9th, streamed live

For World Cup, Marin Alsop leads Sao Paulo orchestra in Beethoven's 9th, streamed live

Marin Alsop, who led a vigorous account of Beethoven's Ninth last month with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, will conduct that same iconic work on Sunday with her ensemble in Brazil, the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, as a World Cup salute.  Read more ...

A swinging 'Stars and Stripes' from Chick Webb for the Fourth of July

A swinging 'Stars and Stripes' from Chick Webb for the Fourth of July

To get your Fourth of July off to a swinging step, I just had to share what must be the coolest version of John Philip Sousa's famous march "Stars and Stripes Forever." Recorded in 1939, this brilliantly swinging blast from the past is by the big band of Baltimore's own Chick Webb, one of the greatest talents in jazz history.  Read more ...

BSO cancels Thursday's 'Star-Spangled Spectacular'; Friday's concert still on

BSO cancels Thursday's 'Star-Spangled Spectacular'; Friday's concert still on

If you glanced at the sky lately, you will understand why the Baltimore Symphony made this call. Here's the statement:  Read more ...

Eschenbach leads National Symphony in transcendent account of Bruckner Eighth

Eschenbach leads National Symphony in transcendent account of Bruckner Eighth

Anton Bruckner's epic symphonies, rather like the structures of Stonehenge, continue to loom large and strange and beautiful. These products of a fierce faith do not give up their secrets easily.  Read more ...

Affecting pairing of Adams, Beethoven from the Baltimore Symphony

Affecting pairing of Adams, Beethoven from the Baltimore Symphony

A year after 9/11, the New York Philharmonic premiered "On the Transmigration of Souls," a reflective work for chorus and orchestra by John Adams that incorporates words and phrases from messages posted near the site of the World Trade Center, from interviews with survivors and, most chillingly, from a flight attendant on one of the doomed planes. To follow such a somber work, the Philharmonic's then-music director Lorin Maazel chose music of solidarity and joy, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. This pairing seemed just right to me when I heard that Philharmonic concert almost 12 years ago. It seemed just as right, just as effective, when Marin Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in this same pairing on Thursday night at Meeryhoff Hall to close the 2013-2014 season. It was all the more moving to hear the Adams piece so soon after the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. And, given all of the fresh references to the Taliban back in the news after the release of an American soldier involved in a war that resulted from the events of 2001, it seemed a very good time to hear Beethoven's plea for brotherhood again. This also turned out to be an exceptional night of music-making from Alsop, the BSO and the other forces assembled. "On the Transmigration of Souls" incorporates sounds on tape — voices reading names of the dead, street noises, etc. The music emerges delicately out of that soundscape and begins a kind of journey, slowly rising in intensity before subsiding, all the while gently pulsing with Adams’ distinctive style of minimalism. The choral forces — adult and children’s choirs — are incorporated seamlessly into the fabric. Each fragment of text ("He was the apple of my father’s eye," "She had a voice like an angel") speaks volumes. If the score comes across as a little cliched at times, a little too theatrical at others, it represents a substantial attempt to sum up the irreparable, irreplaceable, inexpressible loss on that bright blue September day. Alsop sculpted the score sensitively and drew refined playing from the orchestra. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society and Peabody Children's Chorus fulfilled their roles with admirable beauty of tone and tenderness of expression. Beethoven's Ninth turns up a little too often around here (it will be back on the BSO lineup next season). And more often than not, I've been disappointed in the results. Not this time. Alsop brought out the tension and turbulence of the first movement to keen effect and kept the pressure building in the Scherzo. Other than an unsettled moment at the start, the orchestra responded with considerable polish and power; timpanist James Wyman made gripping contributions in both of those first two movements. In the poignant Adagio, Alsop let the music breathe to truly poetic effect. There was warmly nuanced phrasing, especially from the strings (the violins sounded oddly thin in tone, but otherwise impressive). The famous finale emerged with fresh force. Alsop seemed to thrive on the ever-shifting tempos and dynamics, ensuring a great deal of color and personality in the orchestra's playing. She shaped the "Ode to Joy" theme in the cellos and basses with particular sensitivity; the playing had remarkable eloquence. Eloquent, too, were the tone and phrasing of Eric Owens, the celebrated bass-baritone (substituting for an indisposed James Morris). The other soloists were also stellar: Tenor Dimitri Pittas, mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano and, especially, soprano Angela Meade, whose radiant voice lit up the stage. The Choral Arts Society performed from memory, which heightened the singers' firm connection to the music as they produced a cohesive sound and articulated with great care. Alsop kept all the forces in tight focus, building the tension effectively all the while and letting the last measures really rip. A notable Ninth all around.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony, Folger Theatre present vivid 'Midsummer Night's Dream'

Baltimore Symphony, Folger Theatre present vivid 'Midsummer Night's Dream'

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra could have included just a little sample of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to go with its latest program, which includes the overture and incidental music Mendelssohn wrote under the spell of that play. But this is an all-out production, and a beguiling one at that.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony announces encore project for 2016 centennial

Baltimore Symphony announces encore project for 2016 centennial

As the Baltimore Symphony's 2016 centennial approaches, the orchestra will commission 10 composers to write encores of two or three minutes each.   Read more ...

Remarks by Katherine Harris Rick from the Peabody memorial for cellist Dmitry Volkov

Remarks by Katherine Harris Rick from the Peabody memorial for cellist Dmitry Volkov

Among those most deeply affected by the death of cellist Dmitry Volkov were his colleagues in the award-winning Russia Trio -- pianist Katherine Harris Rick and violinist Nikita Borisevich. At Monday's memorial held at the Peabody Conservatory, where Mr. Volkov and the other trio members did graduate studies, Ms Rick delivered these touching remarks about her friend:  Read more ...

A tribute to cellist Dmitry Volkov from Daniel Heifetz

A tribute to cellist Dmitry Volkov from Daniel Heifetz

On Monday morning, friends of Dmitry Volkov, the talented cellist who died unexpectedly in Baltimore on May 10 at the age of 26, gathered at the Peabody Institute, where he recently earned an artist's diploma.  Read more ...

Clarinetist, Peabody faculty member Anthony McGill gets new post; gives recital here Sunday

Clarinetist, Peabody faculty member Anthony McGill gets new post; gives recital here Sunday

WQXR in New York reports that Anthony McGill, one of the most eloquent clarinetists of our day, will join the New York Philharmonic in September as principal.  Read more ...

Emanuel Ax closes Shriver Hall season with brilliant Brahms-centric program

Emanuel Ax closes Shriver Hall season with brilliant Brahms-centric program

Some pianists become narrower -- in terms of repertoire, that is -- as they grow older. They stick contentedly with, say, a Mozart-Beethoven-Schubert diet, or maybe just big helpings of Rachmaninoff and Liszt. More disturbingly, some young keyboard players restrict themselves to a few composers or eras early on.  Read more ...

Peabody Conservatory receives $1 million to launch Leon Fleisher Studio Scholarship

Peabody Conservatory receives $1 million to launch Leon Fleisher Studio Scholarship

Baltimore arts patrons Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have donated $1 million to the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University to establish scholarships for students of near-legendary pianist and veteran Peabody faculty artist Leon Fleisher.  Read more ...

A touching memento of conductor Carlo Maria Giulini on his centenary

A touching memento of conductor Carlo Maria Giulini on his centenary

Carlo Maria Giulini, the elegant and eloquent Italian conductor, was born on this date 100 years ago (he died in 2005). The centenary is a good reason to take a moment and recall his uncommon artistry.  Read more ...

Alsop, BSO deliver explosive account of Shostakovich's Twelfth Symphony

Alsop, BSO deliver explosive account of Shostakovich's Twelfth Symphony

An emperor and a dictator rule over the latest Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program, which turns out to be benevolent for us commoners who like noble music-making.  Read more ...

Leon Fleisher conducts Peabody Symphony in works by Beethoven, Brahms, Frank Martin

Leon Fleisher conducts Peabody Symphony in works by Beethoven, Brahms, Frank Martin

Well, that was exhilarating. The Peabody Symphony Orchestra's concert Thursday night delivered some impressive sonic power, with the near-legendary Leon Fleisher providing the ignition.  Read more ...

Handel Choir of Baltimore performs Rachmaninoff's 'All-Night Vigil'

Handel Choir of Baltimore performs Rachmaninoff's 'All-Night Vigil'

I think Arian Khaefi's tenure as artistic director of the Handel Choir of Baltimore is going to work out just fine.  Read more ...

Music in the Great Hall concludes its season in fine form

Music in the Great Hall concludes its season in fine form

Music in the Great Hall wrapped up its 40th anniversary season Sunday afternoon at Towson Unitarian with two powerhouse artists -- flutist Marina Piccinini and pianist Michael Sheppard.   Read more ...

University of Maryland Symphony to perform memorized, choreographed 'Appalachian Spring'

University of Maryland Symphony to perform memorized, choreographed 'Appalachian Spring'

The last thing an orchestra musician expects to do is memorize music — that's for soloists. And even if orchestral members had reason to learn every note of a piece by heart, they wouldn't expect to dance around a stage while playing.  Read more ...

Alsop, BSO revisit Mahler's First; Rachmaninoff 'Rhapsody' also on program

Alsop, BSO revisit Mahler's First; Rachmaninoff 'Rhapsody' also on program

Marin Alsop began her tenure as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director in 2007 with one of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and has kept his richly challenging, richly rewarding works in the prominently in the picture since.  Read more ...

For Good Friday, Marian Anderson's incomparable performance of 'Crucifixion'

For Good Friday, Marian Anderson's incomparable performance of 'Crucifixion'

On Easter Sunday 75 years ago -- April 9, 1939 -- Marian Anderson gave a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of about 75,000 who braved the cool weather, and a huge national audience listening on radio.  Read more ...

Itzhak Perlman joins Baltimore Symphony for program of Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz

Itzhak Perlman joins Baltimore Symphony for program of Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz

Few musicians generate the affection that Itzhak Perlman has enjoyed from the public for the better part of four decades. That bond is still going strong, as was evident the moment he made his entrance at the Music Center at Strathmore Thursday night to begin a dual concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as violin soloist and conductor.  Read more ...

Bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, eminent Britten expert and Peabody Institute faculty member, dies at 82

Bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, eminent Britten expert and Peabody Institute faculty member, dies at 82

News came overnight that John Shirley-Quirk has died in Bath, England, at the age of 82. The bass-baritone was a most eloquent singer; an especially insightful interpreter of music by Benjamin Britten; a man of great personal charm; and an inspiring teacher, who served froim 1992 to 2012 on the faculty at the Peabody Institute.  Read more ...

Colorful recital by trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth at Shriver Hall

Colorful recital by trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth at Shriver Hall

Trumpet recitals are among the rarest of events in the classical music realm. It's just a guess on my part, but I imagine that recitals by female trumpeters have tended to be ever so slightly rarer. Which is to say that Sunday evening's appearance by Tine Thing Helseth for the Shriver Hall Concert Series was extra cool.  Read more ...

Pro Musica Rara wraps up 39th season with rarities

Pro Musica Rara wraps up 39th season with rarities

Pro Musica Rara, one of the unsung heroes of Baltimore's performing arts scene, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next season.  Read more ...

Tortelier at his dynamic best in return to Baltimore Symphony podium

Tortelier at his dynamic best in return to Baltimore Symphony podium

If the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra were to appoint a principal guest conductor, I wouldn't be surprised to see Yan Pascal Tortelier get the nod.  Read more ...

Christoph Eschenbach renews contract with National Symphony through 2016-2017

Christoph Eschenbach renews contract with National Symphony through 2016-2017

Christoph Eschenbach has extended his contract as National Symphony Orchestra music director for two years, which keeps him on the podium through 2016-2017. That will be his seventh season.   Read more ...

JHU names Saint Louis Symphony president dean of Peabody Institute

JHU names Saint Louis Symphony president dean of Peabody Institute

Fred Bronstein, president of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, will become the new head of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University on June 1. His title will be dean, rather than the previous, longtime designation of director, in keeping with JHU's practice with its other academic divisions.  Read more ...

National Symphony offers soaring Strauss program with Eschenbach, Goerke, Relyea

National Symphony offers soaring Strauss program with Eschenbach, Goerke, Relyea

Richard Strauss never lacks for attention, but the 150th anniversary of his birth this year offers a good excuse to get even more immersed in his brilliant music.  Read more ...

Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic in powerful concert at the Kennedy Center

Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic in powerful concert at the Kennedy Center

The Los Angeles Philharmonic brought an inspired -- you might even say brave -- program to the Kenendy Center Tuesday night and made every note of it count.   Read more ...

Review roundup includes BSO, BCO and a group of Berliners

Review roundup includes BSO, BCO and a group of Berliners

Baltimore has experienced a bounty of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, among others, in recent days.  Read more ...

Peabody Trio performs Beethoven, Dvorak and Shulamit Ran for Great Hall series

Peabody Trio performs Beethoven, Dvorak and Shulamit Ran for Great Hall series

The Peabody Trio, the faculty ensemble that has been based at the Peabody Conservatory for 25 years, gave a concert Sunday afternoon for Music in the Great Hall that found the players in cohesive, communicative form.  Read more ...

Russian program impressively delivered by BSO, Alsop, Salerno-Sonnenberg

Russian program impressively delivered by BSO, Alsop, Salerno-Sonnenberg

Russian repertoire was so prevalent and played so passionately during Yuri Temirkanov's tenure at the helm of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that it seemed to some people that there was no point in touching such music again. I confess I entertained that notion myself for a little while.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony's 2014-2015 season to explore 'spirituality and transcendence'

Baltimore Symphony's 2014-2015 season to explore 'spirituality and transcendence'

Since becoming music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007, Marin Alsop has typically devised a theme of some kind to unify each season. For 2014-2015, the theme is "spirituality and transcendence."  Read more ...

Kennedy Center's 2014-2015 season includes premieres, celebration of Iberian culture

Kennedy Center's 2014-2015 season includes premieres, celebration of Iberian culture

The Kennedy Center's 2014-2015 season will feature a celebration of arts from the Iberian peninsula, along with the premiere of a Degas-inspired theater work, and, as usual, a wide assortment of music and dance events.  Read more ...

Shriver Hall Concert Series to present Grimaud, de Niese, Kremer, more in 2014-15

Shriver Hall Concert Series to present Grimaud, de Niese, Kremer, more in 2014-15

For its 49th season, the Shriver Hall Concert Series has assembled a particularly starry lineup of classical artists.  Read more ...

Clarinetist Anthony McGill gives radiant performance of Mozart concerto with BSO

Clarinetist Anthony McGill gives radiant performance of Mozart concerto with BSO

In Peter Shaffer’s wildly fanciful play “Amadeus,” the mediocre and oh-so jealous composer Salieri describes the moment he realized the genius of his nemesis — hearing a phrase in Mozart’s Serenade for Winds that was “filled with such longing … it had me trembling.”  Read more ...

Gil Shaham performs sterling recital of unaccompanied Bach at Shriver Hall

Gil Shaham performs sterling recital of unaccompanied Bach at Shriver Hall

The more you study Bach, the deeper your admiration becomes.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony lifts off with sci-fi program featuring George Takei

Baltimore Symphony lifts off with sci-fi program featuring George Takei

You will not be the least surprised that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a hit on its hand with "Sci-Fi Spectacular," a pops program this weekend featuring the inimitable George Takei. If you don't have tickets for the remaining performances, beam them up.  Read more ...

My wish list for future Baltimore Symphony programming

My wish list for future Baltimore Symphony programming

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be announcing its 2014-2015 season in a few weeks. As is the case every year, I am hoping for a whole bunch of surprises, a filling in of long-standing gaps in the BSO's repertoire. And, naturally, I am especially hoping to hear more of my favorite stuff (it's all about me, as you know).  Read more ...

Yuri Temirkanov and St. Petersburg Philharmonic in soaring concert at Strathmore

Yuri Temirkanov and St. Petersburg Philharmonic in soaring concert at Strathmore

The scary snow forecast was not enough to deter a decent-sized crowd from trekking to Strathmore Wednesday night for a concert by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra led by its longtime music director Yuri Temirkanov. I, for one, would have risked even more threatening weather for the opportunity to experience this level of artistry.  Read more ...

Gerald Finley gives incisive performance of Schubert's 'Winterreise' at Shriver Hall

Gerald Finley gives incisive performance of Schubert's 'Winterreise' at Shriver Hall

As I drove from one concert to another early Sunday evening, I thought to myself (or would have, if I were a German with perfect recall of Wilhelm Muller's poetry) that "nun ist die Welt so trube, Der Weg gehult in Schnee" -- "Now the world is so bleak, the path covered in snow."  Read more ...

Shirley Temple and her unforgettable performance of the operatic classic, "La La La"

Shirley Temple and her unforgettable performance of the operatic classic, "La La La"

The news of Shirley Temple's death cast a cloud over an otherwise sunny day here in Baltimore.  Read more ...

Colorful performances from Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore

Colorful performances from Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore

Last weekend found two of the area's orchestral ensembles in fine form.  Read more ...

Marin Alsop recalls parents' passion for music

Marin Alsop recalls parents' passion for music

The past few weeks have been rough on Marin Alsop.  Read more ...

Joseph Young, honed at Peabody, BSO, named assistant conductor of Atlanta Symphony

Joseph Young, honed at Peabody, BSO, named assistant conductor of Atlanta Symphony

Joseph Young, who left a most favorable mark locally as the first recipient of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra-Peabody Institute Conducting Fellowship, has been moving steadily up the ladder since his years with the BSO, 2007-09.  Read more ...

Marin Alsop's parents die within the space of two weeks

Marin Alsop's parents die within the space of two weeks

The parents of Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, have died within the space of 12 days. Both were musicians whose careers included longtime service in the New York City Ballet Orchestra.  Read more ...

Stirring National Symphony concert with Joshua Bell, Christoph Eschenbach

Stirring National Symphony concert with Joshua Bell, Christoph Eschenbach

The Kennedy Center Concert Hall was packed Saturday night for the National Symphony Orchestra's first performance of a 1946 masterwork by Paul Hindemith, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."  Read more ...

Christoph Eschenbach to lead NSO in rare performance of Hindemith requiem

Christoph Eschenbach to lead NSO in rare performance of Hindemith requiem

The music of Paul Hindemith gets little attention in our time. This despite the fact that the German-born composer, who spent many years in the U.S. after the rise of the Third Reich, once was widely recognized as an important and influential figure.  Read more ...

Jack Everly to step in for Marin Alsop as conductor for BSO's Chaplin film program

Jack Everly to step in for Marin Alsop as conductor for BSO's Chaplin film program

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop has canceled her scheduled appearances this week with the ensemble. Her mother, a cellist who spent several decades in the New York City Ballet Orchestra, died late last week in upstate New York at the age of 82.  Read more ...

Contemporary music gets extra loving from classical Grammys

Contemporary music gets extra loving from classical Grammys

Scrolling through the classical winners of the 2014 Grammys, I was struck by the tilt toward the contemporary, or at least off-the-well-worn-path repertoire. I have no penetrating insight into this. I don't even know if it's a trend in recent years, since I rarely remember who wins and I'm too lazy to go back and look at the archives. But this year's list of winners seems pretty cool.  Read more ...

BSO players offer lyrical program for Chamber Music by Candlelight

BSO players offer lyrical program for Chamber Music by Candlelight

Ordinarily, I would never think of being out on Sunday nights during "Downton Abbey" season, but I made an exception last weekend in order to catch an appealing program on the Chamber Music by Candlelight series at Second Presbyterian Church. (Of course, I didn't miss "Downton." That's what DVRs are for.)  Read more ...

Death of conductor Claudio Abbado at 80 a deep loss for music world

Death of conductor Claudio Abbado at 80 a deep loss for music world

The news overnight that Claudio Abbado has died is deeply affecting. The Italian conductor was responsible for some of the most sublime music-making of our time. We are fortunate that so much of it was recorded and filmed, a treasury of inspiration that will be much valued as long as people care about the art form.  Read more ...

BSO delivers stylish Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven with Denk, Xie, McGegan

BSO delivers stylish Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven with Denk, Xie, McGegan

The sacred triumvirate of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven accounts for a crucial portion of what we call classical music, so there are plenty of reasons to program works by all three men on the same evening. There is also a risk of taking such material for granted, coasting on the familiarity of the structures and logical harmonic language.  Read more ...

BSO premieres Leshnoff's Guitar Concerto, revisits Dvorak's 'New World'

BSO premieres Leshnoff's Guitar Concerto, revisits Dvorak's 'New World'

With the new year underway, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is focusing on the New World. This weekend's program offers music by two Americans and a visitor to America, music from very different eras, but with a pulsing lyricism in common.  Read more ...

Midweek Madness presents music for freezing conditions

Midweek Madness presents music for freezing conditions

Midweek Madness, trying hard to find an upside to the freezing cold gripping its Baltimore home and a big hunk of the country, offers this taste of a concert from Norway. Who knew ice could be so much fun?  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony to premiere Leshnoff guitar concerto composed for Manuel Barrueco

Baltimore Symphony to premiere Leshnoff guitar concerto composed for Manuel Barrueco

The number of concertos for guitar and orchestra is not long; the list of those heard regularly in concert halls is shorter still. This week, a Baltimore-rooted guitar concerto will enter the repertoire and, given the considerable assets behind it, should have a good chance of becoming one of the more successful works of its kind.  Read more ...

Andrew Grams conducts Baltimore Symphony in stylish Viennese program

Andrew Grams conducts Baltimore Symphony in stylish Viennese program

The year is not even a week old, and there's a contender for highlight of the 2014 music season in Baltimore.  Read more ...

A vintage song provides good advice for the New Year

A vintage song provides good advice for the New Year

While you're mulling over all those usual New Year's resolutions you will not keep, here's a reminder of the right attitude to take as 2014 dawns -- an attitude, I hasten to admit, I have the hardest time maintaining.  Read more ...

Conductors with local ties to lead 'Nutcracker' productions in Baltimore

Conductors with local ties to lead 'Nutcracker' productions in Baltimore

Guiding the orchestras during this weekend's "Nutcracker" performances will be two conductors with Baltimore connections.  Read more ...

Last weekend before Christmas in Baltimore offers two 'Nutcracker' productions

Last weekend before Christmas in Baltimore offers two 'Nutcracker' productions

Even people who ordinarily find ballet a tough nut to crack can find themselves falling for the charms of "The Nutcracker." Set to an ear worm-filled score by Tchaikovsky, the ballet tells a Christmas Eve story of childhood and fantasy, toys and sweets, snow and sentiment.  Read more ...

A few notes on Handel Choir, Miro Quartet and pianist Shai Wosner

A few notes on Handel Choir, Miro Quartet and pianist Shai Wosner

Sunday's musical attractions included the 79th annual performance of Handel's "Messiah" by a choir named for the composer, plus a chamber music program presented by the Shriver Hall Concert Series. A few words on each.  Read more ...

Soweto Gospel Choir sings tribute to Nelson Mandela in Pretoria Woolworths

Soweto Gospel Choir sings tribute to Nelson Mandela in Pretoria Woolworths

This uplifting video came to my attention today and I just had to share it. Even if you're sick of choral flashmob events in stores, you're bound to find this one irresistible.   Read more ...

Castleton Festival announces 2014 season of opera, concerts

Castleton Festival announces 2014 season of opera, concerts

With frigid temperatures and patches of snow and ice all over Baltimore, it's even more fun to contemplate the just-announced 2014 Castleton Festival, since one thing you can count on at this engaging enterprise deep in Virginia's Rappahannock County is plenty of warmth. The sixth annual festival will run June 28 to July 20.  Read more ...

Morgan State University Choir to perform at Mandela service in D.C., streamed online

Morgan State University Choir to perform at Mandela service in D.C., streamed online

The Morgan State University Choir, one of Baltimore's most acclaimed cultural organizations, will participate in the memorial service for Nelson Mandela Wednesday morning at Washington National Cathedral. The service will be streamed online free (you just need to register in advance).  Read more ...

Chicago Symphony president Deborah Rutter named Kennedy Center president

Chicago Symphony president Deborah Rutter named Kennedy Center president

Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association for the past decade, has been named president of the Kennedy Center, effective Sept. 1, 2014. She will succeed Michael M. Kaiser.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony marketing campaign shows musicians without any airs, but some tattoos

Baltimore Symphony marketing campaign shows musicians without any airs, but some tattoos

UPDATE: At the end of January, The American Marketing Association – Baltimore presented the BSO with the Marketing Excellence Award for Best Advertising Campaign for this project.  Read more ...

Aeolus Quartet gives dynamic concert for Music in the Great Hall

Aeolus Quartet gives dynamic concert for Music in the Great Hall

The supposedly dying art of classical music keeps getting fresh jolts from all the young talent out there that has yet to buy into that imminent demise notion. One particularly healthy part of the business is chamber music, which seems to get enriched year after year by new ensembles loaded with skill and personality.  Read more ...

Audio from the Boston Symphony concert Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy assassination news broke

Audio from the Boston Symphony concert Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy assassination news broke

In many a history of the Kennedy assassination during the past 50 years, mention has been made of the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert that was going on that awful Friday afternoon, and how the ensemble changed the program to play the Funeral March from Beethoven's "Eroica."  Read more ...

Pianist Nelson Freire delivers eloquent recital at Shriver Hall

Pianist Nelson Freire delivers eloquent recital at Shriver Hall

His name may not register with concert-goers as quickly as some others, but Nelson Freire is easily recognized as one of the most respected pianists on the world scene. Without a hint of showiness or artificial attitude, Freire invariably brings a sterling technique and stylistic authority to the keyboard, as he did in a recital Sunday evening for the Shriver Hall Concert Series.  Read more ...

Baltimore Symphony presents affecting performance of Britten's 'War Requiem'

Baltimore Symphony presents affecting performance of Britten's 'War Requiem'

The Baltimore Symphony has presented an epic work every few seasons since Marin Alsop started her tenure as music director in 2007, works that seem to bring out the best in her and the orchestra. Such was the case with Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" and Arthur Honegger's "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher."  Read more ...

Film on Michael Hersch, 'The Sudden Pianist,' gets showing at Peabody Library

Film on Michael Hersch, 'The Sudden Pianist,' gets showing at Peabody Library

Nothing more obnoxious than a writer who quotes himself, but here I go: "Michael Hersch writes music of astounding, even thrilling, complexity; music that can be hard to grasp, yet impossible to let go of; and music of stark, unsettling, seemingly implausible beauty."  Read more ...

Pro Musica Rara delivers colorful sampling of Handel arias with Julianne Baird

Pro Musica Rara delivers colorful sampling of Handel arias with Julianne Baird

After less than a month, Pro Musica Rara is halfway through its 2013-14 season. So you'd better be paying attention or you might miss the other half, which would be a pity, since the early music group is in fine fettle these days. (The remaining concerts are in February and April.)  Read more ...

For All Souls' Day, a performance of Strauss' 'Allerseelen'

For All Souls' Day, a performance of Strauss' 'Allerseelen'

In case you pay attention to liturgical calendars, or in case you don't, Nov. 2 is All Souls' Days in Catholic tradition. That's reason enough for me to share one of my favorite art songs -- "Allerseelen" ("All Souls' Day") by Richard Strauss. That guy sure could write 'em.  Read more ...

Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Concert Artists of Baltimore launch their seasons

Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Concert Artists of Baltimore launch their seasons

Last weekend saw two more entries in Baltimore's 2013-14 music season, each yielding rewards.  Read more ...

Conductor Jun Markl, cellist Johannes Moser in lyrical Baltimore Symphony program

Conductor Jun Markl, cellist Johannes Moser in lyrical Baltimore Symphony program

The latest program from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is as safe as it comes — an old-fashioned mix of 19th-century fare.  Read more ...

Midweek Madness get into World Series mode with Boston, St. Louis symphonies

Midweek Madness get into World Series mode with Boston, St. Louis symphonies

Midweek Madness, distraught over them O's (as we say in Baltimore), was prepared to forget all about the World Series, until this droll reminder from the brass players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.  Read more ...

Denyce Graves sings Mahler song cycle with Peabody Symphony

Denyce Graves sings Mahler song cycle with Peabody Symphony

Among the starriest hires Peabody Conservatory made in the past decade or so was that of mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.  Read more ...

Peabody director to head the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Peabody director to head the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Jeffrey Sharkey, who announced last May that he would not seek to renew his contract as director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University after seven years, will become principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland next fall.  Read more ...

More evidence that outdated attitudes about female conductors persist

More evidence that outdated attitudes about female conductors persist

Alex Ross has posted a column that addresses, among other things, persistent and stupid attitudes about women on the podium. Very dispiriting.  Read more ...

NSO premieres George Washington-inspired work for orchestra, narrators

NSO premieres George Washington-inspired work for orchestra, narrators

He may have been first in the hearts of his countrymen, but George Washington has not necessarily been first in the minds of composers. This makes the National Symphony Orchestra's premiere at the Kennedy Center Thursday night of the distinctively titled "george WASHINGTON" by Roger Reynolds all the more newsy.  Read more ...

Bernstein, Ravel program brings out best in BSO, Alsop, Thibaudet

Bernstein, Ravel program brings out best in BSO, Alsop, Thibaudet

Officially, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's 2013-14 season opened last week. Musically, I'd say it really got going last night, when the ensemble kicked into high gear to deliver sterling performances of works by Leonard Bernstein and Maurice Ravel.  Read more ...

BSO to perform Bernstein's 'Age of Anxiety'

BSO to perform Bernstein's 'Age of Anxiety'

Marin Alsop's tenure as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has been notable for several things, prominent among them the programming of compositions by Leonard Bernstein, her childhood idol and mentor when she was starting her conducting career in the 1980s.  Read more ...

An opener for Community Concerts, a preview for Lyric Opera

An opener for Community Concerts, a preview for Lyric Opera

Community Concerts at Second, which offers a remarkable range of free and substantial programs each year, drew a big house for the opening of its 27th season Sunday afternoon showcasing the Aspen String Trio, plus one.  Read more ...

BSO opens season with U.S. premiere of John Adams' Saxophone Concerto

BSO opens season with U.S. premiere of John Adams' Saxophone Concerto

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra opened its 2013-2014 season Friday night with a burst of sax and violence.  Read more ...

Marin Alsop renews Baltimore Symphony contract through 2021

Marin Alsop renews Baltimore Symphony contract through 2021

(UPDATE: This is new version of the story that was first reported Wednesday, with new quotes, including from the BSO musicians.)  Read more ...

Public invited to Baltimore Chamber Orchestra conducting classes

Public invited to Baltimore Chamber Orchestra conducting classes

You're invited to observe sessions of the conducting course given by Baltimore Chamber Orchestra music director Markand Thakar this week.  Read more ...

Another health update on Marin Alsop, Placido Domingo

Another health update on Marin Alsop, Placido Domingo

Another update from the casualty list.  Read more ...

Updates on ailing Marin Alsop, Placido Domingo

Updates on ailing Marin Alsop, Placido Domingo

Baltimore Symphony Music Director Marin Alsop has canceled more conducting engagements as a result of injuring her July 1 falling in her hotel room in Brazil.  She canceled her gigs for the rest of the month.  Read more ...

Another musical offering for the Fourth of July

Another musical offering for the Fourth of July

I couldn't resist one more musical blast from the past for the Fourth of July -- this one not quite on the exalted artistic plane of Rosa Ponselle singing the national anthem.  Read more ...