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Classical Music

Marin Alsop: Readying the notes on legendary ladies

Fall Preview of the Arts

By Mike Giuliano

12:31 PM EDT, September 6, 2011

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It's still late-summer, but classical musicians can hardly wait to get back into the concert hall for the 2011-2012 season.

One of the first to return is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Marin Alsop leads a Gala Celebration concert Sept. 10 at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall that features a Baltimore native, violinist Hilary Hahn, playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. This program also includes a BSO-commissioned piece, David T. Little's Baltimore-themed "Charm," reinforcing Alsop's commitment to new music.

The BSO's regular season gets under way with an ambitious program in which it will be joined by soprano Layla Claire and mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, as well as the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, for Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") Sept. 15-16 at Meyerhoff and Sept. 17 at the Music Center at Strathmore.

In the season running into next June, the BSO plays a wide range of repertory with soloists including violinists Itzhak Perlman and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and pianists Leon Fleisher, Olga Kern and Horacio Gutierrez.

One thematic focus for the upcoming BSO season is on what the orchestra terms "revolutionary women," with programs including Honegger's "Joan of Arc at the Stake," for which the orchestra, chorus and actors promise to make quite an impression Nov. 17-18 at Meyerhoff and then Nov. 19 at New York'sCarnegie Hall.

Another strong woman is celebrated in the world premiere of Baltimore composer James Lee III's "Chuphshah! Harriet's Drive to Canaan," which honors Harriet Tubman. It shares the bill with Dvorak's cello concerto, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 ("Pathetique") Sept. 23 and 25 at Meyerhoff and Sept. 24 at Strathmore.

A likely highlight of the BSO Pops series is vocalist Michael Feinstein Nov. 25- 27. And holiday-themed programs include Handel's "Messiah," with the BSO being joined by Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale, Dec. 2 at Meyerhoff and Dec. 3 at Strathmore; and the circus meets the symphony in "Holiday Cirque de la Symphonie," Dec. 8 at Strathmore and Dec. 9-11 at the Meyerhoff.

For ticket information about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, call 410-783-8000 or go to http://www.BSOmusic.org.

Fair hearings in fine halls

Among other Baltimore-area groups, conductor Tom Hall and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society joins with Sweet Honey in the Rock for a "soulful concert" Nov. 5 at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium. For the holiday season, "Christmas with Choral Arts" is Nov. 29 at the Baltimore Basilica; and at Goucher it has "Sing-Along Messiah" Dec. 16 and "Christmas for Kids" Dec. 17. Call 410-523-7070 or go to http://www.baltimorechoralarts.org.

Under conductor Markand Thakar and joined by violinist Madeline Adkins, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra does Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 Oct. 23 at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium. And it does a program devoted to Beethoven and Rachmaninoff there Nov. 20. Call 410-704-2787 or go to http://www.thebco.org.

Although the Baltimore Opera Company sadly has expired, grand opera returns to its former home at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Opera House with the inaugural season of Lyric Opera Baltimore. An audience favorite, Verdi's "La Traviata," opens the season Nov. 4 and 6. The cast includes Elizabeth Futral as Violetta, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be down in the pit. Call 410-900-1150 or go to http://www.modellpac.com.

The venerable Shriver Hall Concert Series starts off Oct. 0ct. 9 with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, followed by violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt Oct. 30, and cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Connie Shih Dec. 4. Call 410-516-7164 or go to http://www.ShriverConcerts.org.

Honoring its namesake, Handel Choir of Baltimore does "Messiah" at two Baltimore churches: St. Ignatius Dec. 10 and Church of the Redeemer Dec. 11. Call 410-366-6544 or go to http://www.handelchoir.org.

Also check out the many offerings at the Peabody Institute by calling 410-234-4800 or going to http://www.peabody.jhu.edu.

And the numerous concerts and other events at other local colleges include the fifth Liszt-Garrison Festival and International Piano Competition Oct. 12-16 at the newly renamed Notre Dame of Maryland University; for this event, call 410-833-5782 or go to http://www.lisztgarrisoncompetition.org.

On the homefront

In Howard County, Candlelight Concert Society's programs in Howard Community College's Smith Theatre start the season with the Ying Quartet Oct. 1, guitarist Jason Vieaux and Escher String Quartet Nov. 19, and Pacifica Quartet Dec. 3. Its Candle Kids series kicks off with National Marionets Theatre's "Sleeping Beauty" Nov. 20 and Peabody Opera Outreach's "Ariel's Tempest" Dec. 4. Call 410-997-2324 or go to http://www.candlelightconcerts.org.

Columbia Pro Cantare has an ambitious start to its season with a new piece by Howard County composer Tom Benjamin called "Old Brick Oratorio" Oct. 15 at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. Performers under conductor Frances Motyca Dawson include soprano Alison Matusky, bass-baritone Robert Cantrell, Lexington Brass Quintet, pianist Erik Apland and organist Donald Fries.

Pro Cantare does its always well-received "Messiah" program Dec. 4 at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, and the CPC Chamber Singers offer "A Christmas Noel" Dec. 11 at Christ Episcopal Church. Call 410-799-9321 or go to http://www.procantare.org.

Under conductor Jason Love, the Columbia Orchestra will be joined by percussionist Christopher Rose for Jennifer Higdon's Percussion Concerto, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" Oct. 15 at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake.

A Dec. 3 program titled "Final Words" presents Mahler's "Adagio" from Symphony No. 10, Verdi's Stabat Mater and Adolphus Hailstork's "I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes." Call 410-465-8777, or go to http://www.columbiaorchestra.org.

And Sundays at Three begins its season with the Mendelssohn Piano Trio Oct. 2, Columbia-bred pianist Brian Ganz Nov. 6 and the Clipper Mill String Quartet Dec. 4 at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. Call 410-992-0145 or go to http://www.SundaysatThree.org.