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Linthicum rivals area art scenes

How easy it would be for the good people of North County to attach themselves to the cultural coattails of the area that surrounds them and just leave it at that.

Who could blame them?

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Baltimore's symphony, opera and theater scene are just minutes away.

The Kennedy Center sits at the other end of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, while the cultural life of Annapolis beckons just a half-hour down the highway.

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But for more than two decades, the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum (PAAL) has steadfastly refused to take the easy way out, preferring instead to offer high-quality entertainment to its subscribers and the rest of the community.

That trend will continue in PAAL's 2003-04 season, which will feature ethnically charged singing and dancing from Eastern Europe, vintage jazz from one of Maryland's premier pianists, a breezy choral stroll down Memory Lane, a full evening devoted to the music of George Gershwin, an affectionate look back at television's Golden Age, plus one of the best military bands of them all.

The Performing Arts Association of Linthicum's 22nd season begins Sept. 27 with the Tamburitzans of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, an ensemble billed as America's longest-running multicultural song and dance company.

Named in honor of the tamburitza, Eastern Europe's equivalent of the mandolin, the Tamburitzans have been singing, playing and dancing to the folk music of Russia, Armenia, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia and the rest of the region for 65 years.

Their flair for color extends not only to their music, but to their clothing as well. During a typical two-hour show, the young artists change in and out of some 400 costumes!

Jazz comes to North County on Nov. 2 with pianist Stef Scaggiari.

One of Maryland's great cultural exports, Scaggiari has been applauded the world over at such prestigious venues as Turkey's International Music Festival, the Rotterdam Festival in the Netherlands, and on the Concord/Fujitsu tour of Japan. Earlier this year, he appeared in concert at Italy's Saluzzo Festival with the great Ethel Ennis, Baltimore's First Lady of Jazz.

In concert or on his 30 or so recordings, Scaggiari brings uncommon elegance and eloquence to jazz, the uniquely American musical art form.

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Three weekends later, PAAL has arranged to be visited by the Arundel Vocal Arts Singers, an Annapolis-based ensemble whose breezy, laid-back renditions of Broadway hits and popular songs from years past have won them appreciative audiences over the years. From the classics of Irving Berlin to the doo-wop repertoire of later generations, conductor Glennette Schumacher and her singers show they know how to put over a song.

Elegant arrangements inspired by one of America's greatest songwriters will be heard Feb. 29 when Le Trio Gershwin comes to North County for an evening of songs composed by their namesake. How do timeless melodies such as "Embraceable You" and "The Man I Love" sound when set to piano, guitar and cello? We'll find out this winter.

Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie - perhaps the best-loved foursome in the history of television - bring their feisty and chaotic brand of humor to PAAL on April 18 when the Pasadena Theatre Company presents "The Adventures of the Honeymooners." Ticket holders become members of a live studio audience when these actors re-create several hilarious episodes as well as some classic commercials of the time.

The season concludes May 8 with a concert by the U.S. Navy Band, which will be free and open to the public. Unlike other PAAL events, held at the Chesapeake Arts Center, the Navy Band concert will be held at 10 E. First Ave., Ferndale. Subscriptions for the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum may be purchased for $34 by calling 410-859-3308.

A benefit dinner for PAAL will be held Sept. 20 at the Rose Restaurant, 6075 Belle Grove Road in Linthicum. Tickets for the dinner, which will begin at 6 p.m., are $35. Reservations: 410- 859-3308.


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