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November 4, 2008

BCO gets vote of confidence from NY Times

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra isn't the only local ensemble to have made a splash in New York this fall (the BSO earned glowing notices for its production of Leonard Bernstein's Mass in The Times and other outlets the week before). Today's New York Times carries a decidedly favorable review and a couple of pictures of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra's appearance there over the weekend -- technically they were in Brooklyn, home of Bargemusic, the remarkable chamber music venue on the river.

My colleague, Steve Smith (no relation, except for the excellent taste), writes that BCO "produced a rich, finely blended sound" in the new Trombone Concerto by Baltimore-based composer Jonathan Leshnoff "and in solid accounts" of adagios by Mozart and Bruckner. The program, which will be performed tomorrow night at Goucher College, also included a new work by Matthew Qualye performed once by the Fauxharmonic (the electronic "orchestra" developed by Paul Henry Smith and once by the BCO.

To my ears, the BCO has been improving steadily over the past few years since music director Markand Thakar arrived and since the recent appointment of concertmaster Madeline Adkins. I thought the playing in the season-opener a couple weeks ago sounded particularly impressive. So it was nice to read a validation of that progress from Steve, who also had good things to say about Leshnoff, a compose I greatly admire (never mind that I wasn't entirely persuaded by his Requiem for the Fallen last season; this guy is a genuinely gifted composer). I look forward to hearing tomorrow what Steve described as Leshnoff's "handsomely wrought, lyrical Trombone Concerto."

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:38 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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