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June 18, 2009

River Concert Series in St. Mary's City to open with salute to Maryland's 375th birthday

River Concert SeriesSummertime means outdoor music, which will be served in considerable quantity and variety at the free River Concert Series, presented by St. Mary's College of Maryland.

The 11th annual riparian festival opens June 19-20 with a salute to the state's 375th birthday. On Friday, the Chesapeake Orchestra -- made up of professionals from around the region -- will perform Dvorak's New World Symphony, conducted by music director Jeffrey Silberschlag. The program also includes works from the early 1600s, the time when St. Mary's City was founded; these will feature several trumpeters, among them BSO principal trumpet Andrew Balio and veteran British musician John Wallace. And Scottish soprano Marie Claire Breen will sing music from the era of Maryland's founding.

There's still more on Friday: O'Malley's March, the Celtic rock band fronted by the state's governor, Martin O'Malley; and the premiere of Terrae Mariae: A Creation Story, a work for narrators and orchestra by Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis that incorporates texts by early Maryland settlers.

The new piece, as well as the music from the 1600s, will be performed again on Saturday's program, which also features ...

Anne Akiko Meyers as soloist in Barber's lush Violin Concerto and arrangements of popular American songs. The concert closes with Handel's Royal Fireworks Music and, of course, actual fireworks over the St. Mary's River.

The series continues June 26 with Silberschlag conducting the Chesapeake Orchestra in Beethoven's Fourth and Copland's Third, with a flute concerto by Haydn in between (Giuseppe Nova, soloist). Fireworks return on July 3, when Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture will be featured. Tchaikovsky's Fifth is the big work on July 17; principal players from the Maryland Youth Symphony will be showcased in concertos.

Two hefty classics are on tap July 24: Ein Heldenleben by Strauss and Piano Concerto No. 1 by Brahms (with Maurizio Moretti). American music is the focus of the finale July 31: Symphonic Dances from Bernstein's West Side Story, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (with Brian Ganz), and two clarinet-centered pieces that don't come around every day -- Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs and Artie Shaw's Clarinet Concerto (with clarinetist Giampiero Sobrino).

All concerts are at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Bring your blankets and picnics.

As you can see, the River Concert Series, which you might think of as Southern Maryland's version of Wolf Trap, offers a remarkable lineup of honest-to-goodness classical music, especially compared to what the Baltimore Symphony has in store this summer (don't get me started).

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:27 AM | | Comments (2)


What? I thought Gov. O'Malley gave up the band to be Governor? Is he really still doing gigs? You've got to be kidding me. Aye carumba. No wonder our state's roads are in shambles!

Well, it is the state's anniversary, after all. Maybe he can be cut a little slack for that. TS

Our state (and especially city) roads will _always_ be in shambles. (Only Philly is worse, where they tend to have _giant_ holes in the middle of major roads -- even _we_ would fix them sooner!) Better to make music than to joust with windmills!!!

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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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