Concert Artists takes its music to different hall


Tomorrow evening the Concert Artists of Baltimore makes its move: from Friedberg Hall to LeClerc Hall at Notre Dame College.

Fortunately, that's the only thing about the Concert Artists that's changing. This group of singers and musicians, now in its seventh season under the leadership of music director Edward Polochick, will continue imaginative programming that mixes the familiar with the unusual, chamber orchestra works with choral works. Tomorrow's concert, which will be dedicated to the memory of Baltimore music benefactor Ruth Rosenberg, is typical: John Adams' "Shaker Loops," Handel's exhilarating "Dixit Dominus" and Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings."

But its unusual programs have created some problems for the group.

"People often come up to me and say, 'What is Concert Artists?' " Polochick says.

The confusion is understandable. Polochick, his small choir of professional singers and his chamber orchestra are specialists in two things: choral music and chamber orchestra works. Are they a choral group, like the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, or an ensemble such as the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra?

"We started with two main charges," Polochick says. "We wanted to be able to do choral works like 'Dixit Dominus,' which make demands in terms of vocal virtuosity that only a small group of professional singers can comfortably meet. And we wanted to be able to do important but off-the-beaten-path masterpieces -- such as Ginastera's "Variaciones Concertantes," which we will do this spring -- that the Baltimore Symphony was not likely to program."

That doesn't mean that Concert Artists doesn't do popular works by well-known composers, but it often balances them with obscure pieces by the same composer.

"The tricky part is finding things that work together," the conductor says.

Polochick, 41, who joined the conducting staff of the Peabody Conservatory in 1979 and became the director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus the same year, has conducting ambitions -- but, he says, they do not currently extend beyond Baltimore.

"I genuinely love this city," says Polochick. "We've had a nibble from a record company for a recording of some works by Menotti, and there's also a possibility of a tour that might take us to England. It may be pie in the sky to say so, but I want to see Concert Artists become one of the jewels in Baltimore's crown."

Concert Artists

What: Concert of works by John Adams, Handel and Tchaikovsky

When: Saturday night at 8

Where: LeClerc Hall at College of Notre Dame, Charles Street and Homeland Avenue

Tickets: $18 general admission, $13 for seniors and students, under 18 admitted free

Call: (410) 764-7371

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