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March 3, 2009

DC Philharmonic to debut at Strathmore in April

Recession? What recession? With so many arts groups facing financial woes and cutting back on product, it seems a little strange to hear about a new orchestra being launched. But, on Wednesday, a press conference is planned at Strathmore to announce the DC Philharmonic Orchestra, which will be based there. (

To be conducted by John Baltimore, the new ensemble will bow April 9 and 10 with what has to be just about the most challenging program an untried orchestra could tackle -- Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, preceded by Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Michael Torke's Bright Blue Music. Most orchestras would not put anything on a program with that long, daunting Mahler symphony (perhaps only the finale will be performed).

The starry soloists scheduled are soprano Harolyn Blackwell and mezzo Denyce Graves. The Heritage Signature Chorale will also participate. As for the orchestral personnel, a press release describes them thusly: "extremely versatile, gifted, and virtuosic professional musicians, who believe in and are committed to creating music, rich in soul and organic energy; music that is expressive, alive and buoyant, that reaches the very depths of the human element."


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:10 PM | | Comments (2)


John Baltimore is an inspiration in this "sit back and let the government do it" climate.

He is going where no man has gone before and definitely deserves the attention and support of the metro D.C. audience...most particularly the black middle class that is generally conspicuously absent at classical music presentations!!

Thanks for the comment. I agree that this project is brave and ripe with possibilities.

Just a note to tell you that you turned the name of the chorus around: it's Heritage Signature Chorale. They are absolutely terrific, and I am delighted to hear that they'll be part of the Mahler 2nd. In addition, on May 9, they will perform a joint concert with the Prince George's Philharmonic at the Clarice Smith Center.

Thanks for leting me know. I've reviewed that group before; very nice work with the Annapolis Symphony years back. I should have been more careful. I'll make the change. 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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