Failure to get equipment delays gala; Music: A BSO concert celebrating the 300th anniversary of the piano -- with guest pianists -- is postponed.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A gala concert scheduled for Sept. 23 in Meyerhoff Hall, celebrating the 300th birthday of the piano, has been postponed. The by-invitation-only concert, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and Maryland Public Television, was to be a star-studded affair.

Pianist-composer Billy Joel was to be the master of ceremonies; featured soloists, some of whom were to perform with the Baltimore Symphony, included such celebrated pianists as Emmanuel Ax, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis.

MPT had planned to tape the event for future world-wide broadcast and possible CD and video release.

It was postponed because a contract with NHK -- the Japanese National Broadcasting Service -- had not been signed in time to provide the digitalized, high-resolution equipment necessary to produce such a broadcast.

In a note late last week to BSO musicians, the orchestra's administration said that without a signed contract, "NHK had decided to commit its resources elsewhere."

Although invitations to the concert had been mailed last month, with an RSVP date of Sept. 10, a Smithsonian spokesman declined to explain the failure to finalize arrangements with NHK.

The spokesman added that the Smithsonian and MPT hoped to find another date in the next six months to present and tape the gala.

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