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February 16, 2009

Savion Glover floors 'em with Baltimore Symphony

The BSO's Symphony With a Tap, I mean Twist, program over the weekend featured the return of Savion Glover, whose feet kicked up a storm to the orchestra's accompanying performances of big, splashy pieces. I caught Saturday night's presentation at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, which attracted the kind of crowd many orchestras would kill for these days -- plentiful, enthusiastic, racially and generationally diverse.

Savion GloverGlover has probably done more for tap dancing than anyone since Eleanor Powell, transforming the genre into a kinetic, complex art form for a new era. He held the crowd in the soles of his feet as he interpreted the propulsive rhythms of John Adams' Lollapalooza, Michael Daugherty's Desi (the score suggests a hyper, Tropicana Club-based episode of I Love Lucy), a Danzon by Arturo Marquez (Glover got some of his coolest effects here just by sliding the edge of his foot against the stage platform), and more.

Through it all, Marin Alsop had the BSO churning along brightly. On the first half of the concert, devoted to the orchestra alone, she led a dynamic account of the Robert Russell Bennett symphonic synthesis of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which generated lots of stylish playing from the ensemble.

There was also room for Mirage: A Fantasy of the Desert by A. Jack Thomas, the extraordinary African-American composer. conductor and educator who played a substantial role in Baltimore's musical life, starting in the early 1920s. The BSO premiered this neglected 1940s score in 2000 (Alsop credited the premiere to Darin Atwater and the Soulful Symphony in remarks from the stage on Saturday, but that seems to have been a case of misspeaking). Mirage is deftly written in an easy-going harmonic style, supported by a clear-cut structure and prismatic orchestration. It's as much fun to hear as I remember it being nine years ago, and it was sturdily performed.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:16 PM | | Comments (1)


It was a great show, and while I appreciated Savion's performance, I was pleasantly suprised at how wonderful the BSO sounded. Even my daughters, including the one who plays cello, commented on how much they look forward to hearing the orchestra in the future.

Thanks for the comment. The orchestra has been in strong form all season, and it was fun hearing them deliver this program with so much flair. If they managed to get young folks loooking forward to hearing the BSO again, the concert was doubly successful.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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