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Shriver Hall Concert Series’ new season celebrates variety, audience participation in classical music

Xavier Foley will likely provide many audience members with their first solo double bass recital during the new Shriver Hall Concert Series.
Xavier Foley will likely provide many audience members with their first solo double bass recital during the new Shriver Hall Concert Series.(HANDOUT)

The Shriver Hall Concert Series 2020-2021 season will feature programs that spotlight the variety of classical musicians working today.

“In a year when so many are celebrating Beethoven and his many glories, we’ve decided to go in a different direction [by] embracing a range of remarkable composers and perspectives from the 17th century to today, from chamber orchestra to solo double bass,” said Catherine Cochran, executive director for the series.

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It’s a stacked season, featuring musicians who already boast an international following or are well on their way to doing so.

Highlights include five Baltimore debuts by artists like the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the early music ensemble Quicksilver and the Aizuri Quartet. The latter, an all-female string quartet, have been racking up prizes since their formation in 2012 for their performances of both classical standards and new repertoire; their debut album “Blueprinting” (which landed a Grammy nomination) features a collection of new works written expressly for them.

For the past five years, the Shriver Hall Concert series has pursued its own commitment to new music by commissioning pieces, and the coming season will see the east coast premiere of a co-commission from composer Hannah Lash.

Performances of other recent additions to concert repertoire include the world premiere of a piece by Anna Clyne, whom Baltimore audiences will recognize as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2015-2016 composer-in-residence, and a performance of a work by Valerie Coleman (founder of, and once the flutist for, the wind quintet Imani Winds) that reflects on the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Solo artists have a good showing this season. Acclaimed Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov makes his third appearance with the series, this time in collaboration with International Tchaikovsky Competition winner Narek Hakhnazaryan; and Xavier Foley will likely provide many audience members with their first solo double bass recital.

Instrumental variety is on display as well, from the two-piano concert by Garrick Ohlsson and Kirill Gerstein, to the wind-heavy McGill/McHale Trio and a duo recital featuring soprano Susanna Phillips and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke.

There’s more than one way to enjoy the offerings of the Shriver Hall Concert Series this year, too. The Discovery Series continues, offering three free concerts throughout the concert year (and all of them excellent — the Aizuri Quartet and Xavier Foley are included here, along with Peabody’s own, pianist Tianyuan Liu). The spring lecture series, also free, dives into questions around the intersection of music and citizenship.

Relatedly, SHCS will be reaching out to its own citizenry with a new social media campaign called #ListenWiderWednesdays, inspired by the sort-of anonymous musicologist writing under the handle @MusicologyDuck, in which audiences are invited to engage with overlooked musicians and works.

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“In all parts of our lives, we fall into familiar and comfortable patterns, and we [at Shriver Hall Concert Series] are looking forward to stretching ourselves just slightly to listen to music that … we haven’t thought to search out,” said Cochran. Audiences are welcome to participate. “I’m excited for people to send their suggestions, respond to the week’s piece, and share their own listening.”

IF YOU GO

Concerts for the 2020-2021 Shriver Hall Concert Series range in price, from free to $44 for general admission. The price for the full subscription series is $264. More information at shriverconcerts.org.

Elizabeth Nonemaker covers classical music for The Baltimore Sun as a freelance writer. Classical music coverage at The Sun is supported in part by a grant from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Sun makes all editorial decisions. Nonemaker can be reached at nonemakerwrites@gmail.com.

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