A highlight of the fall music season in 2014 was a mash-up of classical and rock grandly titled Convergence Maximus. The participants in that outing, Concert Artists of Baltimore and the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, joined forces again this week as part of Light City.
This version of the fusion is more like Convergence Minimus, lasting under an hour, but it still provides an energetic sampling of what each musical organization does on a regular basis. And the performance venue, the imposing War Memorial, provides a certain theatricality of its own, enhanced for the occasion by cool lighting effects.
The rapport between the two ensembles seems to be just as smooth as it was in 2014, judging by Thursday's opening performance (there are two more presentations: 8 and 9:30 p.m. Friday).
Concert Artists founding artistic director Edward Polochick, making a suitably dramatic arrival, led his orchestral and choral forces in music from Verdi's "Aida" that served as a neat counterpart to the BROS excerpts later in the program. Concertmaster Jose Cueto was the stylish soloist in the finale to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, earning applause not just afterward, but during.
I would have preferred one big, long scene from a BROS piece — maybe two — that could have built up more steam. But the samples chosen were delivered in trademark full-throttle mode, and with hearty, if technically uneven, vocal fire power.
The acoustical drawbacks of the cavernous space were especially evident in these moments, with a lot of words and even some of the guitarists' efforts swallowed up, but that didn't seem to matter to the sizable, enthusiastic audience.
Inspired by the history-conscious surroundings, Polochick added patriotic music to the mix -- the national anthem and, in a warmly shaped performance, the sumptuous Carmen Dragon arrangement of "America the Beautiful."
As in 2014, the concert-closer was a truncated "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with some of the BROS' "Valhella" stuffed inside. It didn't sound quite as clever and wild as I recalled (shorter, too, I think).
I wouldn't call this the most cohesive program imaginable, but it's a fun diversion. Free, too.