Although the economy looms largest in the public consciousness now, issues of war and peace have hardly gone away - they never do, somehow. Those issues will be the focus of a presentation this weekend, part of the Tiffany Series at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church.
"Imagine a World Without War" features music of diverse genres, as well as remarks by longtime peace activist Elizabeth McAlister, who, with her husband, the late Philip F. Berrigan, played a major role in the movement against the Vietnam War.
The musical portion includes Portrait of Peace, a five-movement work for horn, piano and percussion composed by Brian Prechtl, a percussionist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
"It's a very strong piece," says John Walker, organist and minister of music at Brown Memorial. "In the second movement, Mark Twain's 'The War Prayer' is read to the sound of a gong. The fourth movement asks how can we help change things, and the fifth offers a vision of peace. There will be projected images and texts during the performance."
Ugandan-born singer/songwriter Kinobe will perform with the group South Beat Africa and the Silver Spring-based vocalist and composer Wendy Lanxner.
"I'm excited about the event because it's a concert with a cause," Walker says. "Our church is deeply committed to the social good of the city and the world. We don't identify ourselves as Democrats, Republicans or Independents. We don't lobby for candidates. We lobby for the word of Jesus, who said 'love your enemies.' Peace is a Christian imperative."
The program is at 3 p.m. Sunday at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1316 Park Ave. Tickets are $5 and $15. Call 410-523-1542 or go to browndowntown.org.
Also on this season's Tiffany Series, named for the exquisite Tiffany windows at the church, is a performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah with combined choirs and veteran organist Fred Swann.
Baltimore Concert Opera
Brendan Cooke sang with the Baltimore Opera Company for nearly a decade, in more than 20 supporting roles and as a member of the chorus in the bass section. When the company filed for bankruptcy in December, canceling the rest of the season, Cooke lost gigs, but not his passion.
"Some friends were talking about how we were going to have some free time this spring," he says, "and the idea of forming our own opera company started, almost as a joke." That led to a serious result, the Baltimore Concert Opera, with Cooke as general director. Operas will be presented in an intimate setting, without sets, costumes or orchestra (only piano).
The inaugural work is Mozart's Don Giovanni, performed by a cast of local and imported singers and conducted by Anthony Barrese on March 25 at the Engineers Club (Garrett-Jacobs Mansion), 11 W. Mount Vernon Place. Call 410-591-1683 or go to baltimoreconcertopera.com.
Handy survival guide
Recently out in paperback is a book that should prove useful for any young, struggling instrumentalist. It's The Young Musician's Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros by Amy Nathan (Oxford University Press $12.95).
There's a lot of sensible advice on choosing or switching instruments, practicing, getting over concert nerves, keeping music in your life even if you decide not to be a professional musician, etc. Nathan presents the material in a manner that is neither simplistic nor condescending, drawing on interviews with teenage players and some stellar musicians.
Insights into a variety of issues and reminiscences of their own youthful struggles and rewards come from the likes of conductors Marin Alsop and Gustavo Dudamel; violinists Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell; pianist Andre Watts; clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; flutist James Galway; trumpeter Wynton Marsalis; and composer John Adams. Talk about sound advice.