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April 27, 2009

Baltimore Chamber Orchestra to resume (almost) normal operations in 2009-2010 season

Good news, for a change. The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, which suspended normal operations earlier this year due to the economic slump, has improved its financial picture sufficiently to return to a regular concert season in October.

Well, almost regular. The budget will be half of what it would be normally. Music director Markand Thakar has volunteered to work without pay. Instead of five orchestral programs, there will be three, plus one recital. But, still, this is an encouraging development for the BCO, which has a long history of quality service to the community behind it, and good news for Baltimore's recession-buffeted classical music scene.

The orchestral programs will include several of classical music's greatest hits. The season will open Oct. 18 with a concert featuring Beethoven's Fifth and music of Mendelssohn; the Handel Choir of Baltimore will participate in this program. The BCO's concertmaster, Madeline Adkins, will be featured in Vivaldi's Four Seasons in February. And the season finale, in May 2010, offers Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with soloist Xiang Gao. The recital on the lineup is by guitarist Ana Vidovic in January; the BCO is applying for grant money to turn that presentation into a concert with orchestra.

Meanwhile, you can still catch the BCO in action this season. On May 6 at Kraushaar Auditorium, the orchestra will record viola concertos by Stamitz and Hoffmeister, featuring Victoria Chiang. The session is being treated like a concert, preceded by a discussion/Q&A with Thakar, Chiang (the conductor's wife) and recording engineer Jamey Lamar. Subscribers to the abbreviated '08-'09 season can use their tickets for this event. 

Posted by Tim Smith at 4:22 PM | | Comments (1)


Yes, it is wonderful that the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra has survived its near-death experience and will present four concerts next season. But you neglected to mention that these performances will take place on Sunday afternoons rather than the Wednesday evenings traditional with the BCO.

Unfortunately Sunday afternoons are already crowded with the concert series of other organizations, many as venerable as the BCO: the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Community Concerts at Second, Harmonious Blacksmith, the Monument Piano Trio, Music in the Great Hall, Pro Musica Rara, and the Shriver Hall Concert Series, to name a few.

All too often this season I’ve been forced to pick one among several concerts that had all been scheduled for the same time period. It would be nice if the series organizers could coordinate their schedules so as to minimize the need for music lovers to make those hard choices.

I couldn't agree with you more. I've frequently preached the value of coordinating schedules to avoid the Sunday pileup, to no avail. It's dangerous for all the organizations. Thanks for posting. 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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