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February 20, 2009

Concert Artists of Baltimore postpones Verdi Requiem

The economy has claimed another victim, but this one only for the short term. The performance of Verdi's towering Requiem that was to have been the season finale for the Concert Artists of Baltimore on April 18 has been postponed until next season (date to be determined). Although the concert was underwritten by sponsors, "our concern was whether we could fill seats," board president Barry Williams says. "Hopefully, the economy will be much better next season."

Concert Artists, an organization with a professional chamber orchestra and chorus, performs most of its programs at the 600-seat Gordon Center in Owings Mills. The Requiem, which can usually be counted on to spark box office traffic, was slated for the 2,500-seat Lyric Opera House, home of the now-in-bankruptcy Baltimore Opera. Over the years, Concert Artists has presented events at the likewise full-sized Meyerhoff Symphony Hall down the street from the Lyric, with string public response. "We at least tripled and sometimes quadrupled attendance whenever we came downtown," says artistic director and conductor Edward Polochick. "And two months out we would have sold more than 700 tickets for a Meyerhoff concert. For the Requiem, we're below 100 in single ticket sales two months out." (Concert Artists subscribers already have their tickets.) Adds Polochick: "We would be wasting the performance." 

Like other arts groups, Concert Artists has been doing the belt-tightening thing this season since the economic downturn. Last month's Gordon Center program, for example, was changed to eliminate the planned choral numbers, saving more than $13,000 in personnel costs and music rentals.

Like many arts groups, this one doesn't have endowment funds to help get through lean times. But, while the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra had to suspend operations, Concert Artists has held on. "We are projecting another balanced budget," Williams says. A Mendelssohn program next month, with orchestra and chorus, at the Gordon Center will proceed as scheduled.

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:02 PM | | Comments (1)


I am very, very disappointed and, frankly, I believe it has been a nowadays all too common panic reaction of the bean counters.....
One hundred tickets sold six weeks before the event is not a "failure"....
After all, Giuseppe Verdi "Requiem Mass in honor of Alessandro Manzoni" stands with Ludwig van Beethoven "Sinfonia numero Nove" as the maximal expression of the human Genius.
Again, I am very sorry.
My regards to you.
Aldo F. della Coletta

Thanks for your comments. I, too was looking forward to the Requiem, especially since it would have put Verdi and operatic voices back into the Lyric, at least for one night.TIM

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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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