With more than 800 season subscribers and an international array of musicians and dancers on its performance roster each year, the Naval Academy's Distinguished Artists Series has become a cultural force to be reckoned with throughout the region.
That will remain true in the 2004-2005 season, which begins Sept. 14 at the academy's Alumni Hall with Yuri Temirkanov conducting his Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in performances of Schumann's Piano Concerto and Brahms' monumental 1st Symphony.
In this age of expressive minimalism in which romantic sensibilities are deemed suspect, Temirkanov's heart-on-his-sleeve artistry is a welcome departure from the desiccated aesthetic that seeks authenticity for its own sake, often to the detriment of the emotional heartbeat that animates the art form.
Twitted in some quarters for his unremitting devotion to the Slavic repertoire, Temirkanov remains a genuinely interesting conductor of the mainstream fare as well. To these ears, his full-throated Haydn and Beethoven have proved every bit as authentic as the jackrabbit tempos and lithe efficiency his BSO predecessor David Zinman brought to 18th- and early 19th- century fare.
Serving as soloist in the Schumann concerto will be Orion Weiss, who played an impressive Tchaikovsky B-flat minor concerto at Alumni Hall a couple years back while in his teens. Now in his early 20s, he has performances with the BSO and the Cleveland Orchestra to his credit, as well as major awards from New York's Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax.
On Nov. 3, the Navy series presents violinist-conductor Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi, one of the world's finest chamber orchestras, in a program of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.
"We had to ask them back," said John Barry Talley, the academy's director of musical activities who manages the series. "They got such a positive response from the audience the last time they were here, we're thrilled to have them return."
On March 1, Opera Verdi Europa, an enterprising touring company made up of some of Eastern Europe's finest young singers, players and dancers, takes the Alumni Hall stage for the grandest of all grand operas, Verdi's Aida.
Another great spectacle comes March 29, when Russia's St. Petersburg State Ballet performs Romeo and Juliet, the beautiful essay in choreography inspired by Prokofiev's endlessly colorful ballet score.
The season comes to a close April 23, when the academy's Talley conducts soloists, the Annapolis Symphony and singers from the Naval Academy and Smith and Goucher colleges in the operatically charged Requiem choral by Verdi -- a power-packed conclusion to a power-packed season.
All Distinguished Artists Series concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. For subscription information, call 410-293-2439.