Season finale to honor local musical lights

The Baltimore Sun

The Columbia Orchestra closes out its 30th anniversary season at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow with a celebration of local music and musicians at Jim Rouse Theatre.

When it comes to musical luminaries from Maryland, few stars shine brighter than Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Christopher Rouse. Born and raised in Mount Washington, Rouse - a nephew of James W. Rouse - attended the Gilman School and went on to earn degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Cornell University. He has taught at the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music, and teaches at the Juilliard School. Having recently moved back to Baltimore, Rouse also will join the composition faculty at the Peabody Conservatory next year.

Rouse has maintained ties with his hometown throughout his career. He was composer-in-residence with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1986-1988 and stayed on as the orchestra's music adviser throughout the tenure of Maestro David Zinman. Like Zinman, BSO music director Marin Alsop is an avid champion of Rouse's work.

Tomorrow's concert opens with Rouse's dynamic orchestral work from 2000, Rapture. Rouse has written that the piece is meant to "convey a sense of spiritual bliss, religious or otherwise." In contrast with the characteristic dark intensity of Rouse's earlier music, this predominantly consonant work is an evocation of "an ever more blinding ecstasy, a world devoid of darkness." The piece steadily gains momentum over the course of its 11 minutes, culminating in a high-speed finale.

Tomorrow's program also features the winners of the Columbia Orchestra's 2008 Young Artist Competition, violinists Alan Zhang and Brian Kim.

Zhang, winner of the competition's junior division, is a seventh-grader at Patapsco Middle School in Ellicott City and studies the violin with Rebecca Henry at the Peabody Preparatory. He will perform the first movement of Edouard Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole.

Kim, the senior division winner, will be making his second appearance as a soloist with the orchestra; he was the junior division winner of the competition in 2005. He will play Camille Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. A freshman at Marriotts Ridge High School, Kim is pursuing violin studies with Matthew Horwitz-Lee, also at the Peabody Preparatory.

The evening ends with an understated nod to another local light: the man behind the podium, Jason Love. The orchestra will perform Maurice Ravel's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, the work with which Love began his tenure as music director nine years ago. It seems fitting that a concert recognizing some of the state's finest musicians should close with a gesture to a gifted conductor and educator who has done so much to nurture and showcase native talent.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens (ages 60 and older); $10 for full-time students younger than 24. At 6:30 p.m., Bill Scanlan Murphy of Howard Community College will present a preconcert lecture. Information: 410-465-8777,, or e-mail ticket

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