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February 11, 2009

'The Soloist' film inspires food drive by orchestras

More than 170 orchestras have signed up to participate in a national food drive, inspired by the spring release of The Soloist, a film based on a true story about a musical prodigy with mental illness discovered in 2005 living on the streets of L.A.

"Orchestras Feeding America," set for March 27 and 28, is a collaborative project by the League of American Orchestras; Feeding America, described as "the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charity"; and Participant Media, an L.A. entertainment company devoted to social change.  Participating ensembles in our state include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra and Chespeake Youth Symphony Orchestra.

The Soloist, set for nationwide release April 24, recounts the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (portrayed by Jamie Foxx), a former Juilliard scholarship student reduced to living on the streets. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) happens upon Ayers playing on a violin with only two strings. The men slowly develop trust and friendship, which is challenged by the realization of Ayers' schizophrenia. Judging by the film's trailer, the on-screen message will underline what some of us have always known about classical music -- that, in the words of Orchestra League president/CEO Jesse Rosen, it "has the power to sustain spirits and change lives, even under the most difficult circumstances."

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:35 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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