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April 15, 2009

Lots of recession-distracting concerts ahead

Last weekend, Baltimore shut down musically, even more than usual for Passover/Easter. But the scene roars back to life this weekend, providing lots of opportunities to put your recession woes away and soak up some interesting music.

In addition to the Baltimore Symphony program featuring concertmaster Jonathan Carney (I've got more about him due to run in my Thursday column in the paper), the Peabody Symphony Orchestra with Leon Fleisher conducting, enticing chamber music concerts by Pro Musica Rara and the Cylburn Trio, and two productions from UM's Maryland Opera Studio, there will be whole lot of other things well worth a listen nearly anywhere you turn.

Farrar StrumSpeaking of opera, two talented local singers, soprano Sara Stewart and tenor Farrar Strum (he was excellent in Baltimore Opera's swan-song, Norma), will join pianist James Harp (invaluable artistic staffer at the ill-fated Baltimore Opera) on Thursday for a program called "Opera a la Carte," part of the cabaret series at Germano's.

An die Musik has at least three classical events this weekend, including another appearance by its artists-in-residence, the Monument Piano Trio, which can be counted on to deliver stylish music-making. On Sunday, violinist Igor Yuzefovich, cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski and pianist Michael Sheppard will perform works by Haydn and Ravel, as well as two British composers, Bax and Bridge.

Christopher Shih, a gastroenterologist who enjoys an extra career as a pianist, will give a recital for the Candlelight Concert Society on Saturday. Last year, Shih won the Van Cliburn Foundation's first contest for amateur pianists conducted entirely on YouTube. He has triumphed in other amateur pianist competitions, too. He'll play a hefty program of works by Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy and Bartok. Here's a video of Shih at a competition in Paris he won last year, tearing through Liszt's Totentanz, which will be on Saturday's program.

And Sunday's concert crush includes a free presentation at Catonsville Presbyterian Church by several BSO players -- David Coombs (bassoon), Marica Kamper (flute), Jane Marvine (oboe), Edward Palanker (clarinet), Mary Woehr (piano) -- who will perform a colorful program of works for woodwinds alone and woodwinds with piano.

And speaking of BSO players, one of the orchestra's fine cellists, Bo Li, will play a recital on Sunday for the Music in the Great Hall series. His 20th century program includes works by Stravinsky and Poulenc.  

PHOTOS: Farrar Strum, courtesy of Germano's; BSO Chamber Players, courtesy of Catonsville Presbyterian Church Concert Series.

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:17 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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