Any number of arts organizations in Baltimore have come and gone over the decades, while the Young Victorian Theatre Company keeps chugging along, to the appreciation of Gilbert and Sullivan fans throughout the area.

The troupe's 39th season opens this weekend with The Pirates of Penzance, which gently skewers social class distinctions, inept and blustery military and police, and slavish devotion to duty. The libretto finds Gilbert in particularly witty form. Sullivan's score is full of charm and sophistication, reaching a height of cleverness in an Act 1 number that combines a waltz for the operetta's love couple with a different tune and meter for lady choristers chattering away in counterpoint.

With H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado, Penzance remains one of the most popular pieces in the G&S; canon. That it enjoyed a new life as a Broadway show in the early 1980s says a lot about its staying power.

The Young Vic production will introduce the company's new music director, Phillip Collister, an accomplished baritone and Towson University faculty member. The stage director is James Harp.

The cast includes Nicholas Houhoulis as Frederic, Jimi James as the Pirate King, Troy Clark as Major-General Stanley, Brendan Cooke as the Sergeant of Police and Jennifer Blades as Ruth. Joy Greene sings the role of Mabel, except on July 18, when Natalie Conte will have the assignment.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, as well as 8 p.m. July 16-18 and 3 p.m. July 19, at Bryn Mawr School, 109 W. Melrose Ave. Tickets are $36. Call 410 323-3077 or go to yvtc.org.

New head of Hippodrome

Jeff Daniel, who helped spur the restoration of Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre in the late 1990s, has returned in the newly created position of vice president of venues for Key Brand Entertainment.

In this post, equivalent to CEO, he will be responsible for programming and management of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, the umbrella organization for the Hippodrome and Broadway Across America-Baltimore. He will also oversee Key Brand Entertainment venues in Boston and Minneapolis.

"What I think I can do is make the Hippodrome act like an arts center," Daniel says, "and broaden the programming." He envisions expanding considerably beyond the touring Broadway shows that have been the mainstay of the Hippodrome.

Marks Chowning served until last year as executive director of the restored Hippodrome, which opened in February 2004.

Daniel, who worked on the Hippodrome development project from 1997 to 2001, is moving to Baltimore with his wife and family from Houston, where he founded a media and entertainment company offering investment and development services.

"How can I not be excited?" he says. "This is a great community for a family. We're going to invest in Baltimore."

Candlelight Concerts '09-'10

The 37th season of Candlelight Concerts in Columbia will include the first installment of a two-year survey of the complete Beethoven string quartets. Six ensembles, American and European, will participate in the cycle, beginning with the Illinois-based Pacifica Quartet on Jan. 23.

The Ebene Quartet from France (Feb. 6) and Artemis Quartet from Germany (Feb. 27) will also be featured on the 2009-2010 portion of the Beethoven series.

Starting off the Candlelight lineup is soprano Emma Kirkby, the much acclaimed specialist in early music, who will perform a 17th-century program with lutenist Jakob Lindberg on Oct. 24. The Concertante Sextet will play Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht and Brahms' G major Sextet, along with John Novacek's Three Rags, on Nov. 21. Cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan will perform works by Beethoven, Schumann, Shostakovich and others on March 13.

Providing the most concentrated dose of contemporary music next season will be the Del Sol Quartet, which has programmed works by Gabriela Lena Frank and Zhou Long, as well as Bartok, on April 10. The season will end June 13 with the winner of the 2010 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition (chosen March 27).

The Artemis Quartet will be presented at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City. All other performances will be at Smith Theatre at Howard Community College. For ticket information, call 410-997-2324 or go to candlelightconcerts.org.

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