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