A Roland Park back yard turns into a soundstage

It was hard for neighbors not to notice the coattails, instruments and spotlights in their quiet Roland Park neighborhood yesterday.

About 50 members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra were being filmed for a television commercial in Jim and Alison Traub's north Baltimore back yard.


Created by MGH Advertising of Owings Mills, the ad is part of a campaign to increase attendance at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall - and to promote the symphony's new second home at the Music and Education Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, which is scheduled to open in 2005. The BSO will split its time between the two venues.

The commercials will start airing in late August and September here and in Bethesda.


"We want people in the area to remember that we're here and get to know us a little better," said Beth Mealey, the BSO's vice president of marketing. "To know us is to love us."

The spot features a man listening to classical music in his den and waving his arms as if conducting an orchestra. When the music stops, he pops his head out of his window and yells, "thanks, guys" to the orchestra members in his back yard, many of whom had accessorized their white-tie attire with sunglasses.

"It's a very different day at work. It's exciting to see the orchestra marketed in a new and different way," said Jane Marvine, an English horn player.

"The music stays the same. The music is timeless. The presentation, the marketing, needs to catch up with the times."

As they drove by, neighbors slowed to stare at the trucks, filming equipment and bass, violin and trumpet players who were causing a bit of a stir in the usually quiet neighborhood.

Concertmaster Jonathan Carney said, "We are literally in these people's back yard," and noted that although they were lucky to avoid July's rain and humidity, he nonetheless was baking in his "monkey suit."

For the residents, the most dramatic part of the shoot was having to hire a plumber to remove a radiator from the house, said Lois and John Post, parents of homeowner Jim Traub, who are visiting. The experience has inspired the Posts' granddaughters (aged 5 and 2) who have been coloring the cardboard put down to protect the floor by the film crew.

"I can't tell you how much effort goes in to one of these kinds of things," said John Post.


Fliers warned local residents of the upcoming hustle and bustle - and potential parking shortage - during the week of filming, said Laura Geer. "It's been an unusually busy day on our street."