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February 4, 2010

Check out the Baltimore Symphony's collaboration with "Rusty Musicians"

In a resounding affirmation of how valued orchestras are in their communities, more than 600 amateur players jumped at the news that the Baltimore Symphony would hold a "Rusty Musicians" night at Strathmore.

The response was so great that two nights were set aside. The first was held Tuesday and, judging by the YouTube clip the BSO has quickly posted, a good time was had by all. (To save you the trouble of clicking, I've posted that clip below.)

The public is invited, for a nominal fee, to observe the second session Thursday (the 4th), from 6 to 10 pm, at Strathmore.

There is talk of offering a similar event at Meyerhoff early next season. (The recently announced BSO Academy for amateurs, scheduled for June, is a week-long enterprise with tuition.)

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:32 PM | | Comments (4)


Wow! I wish I could play the viola or cello so I could participate. I play piano and did a pretty good job with the Grieg Piano Concerto as a student. My dream was to play with an orchestra rather than a second piano. I have heard about recordings of orchestral parts of piano concertos to be used for amateurs who don't have the privilege of playing with live orchestras. Anyone know how to get these?

I think you may find what you're looking for at the company Music Minus One: TIM

I played violin in one of the groups tonight (Thursday). It was a wonderful experience, and I'm glad the BSO is planning to continue this type of outreach. Also, although I have attended many BSO concerts at the Meyerhoff, it was a nice opportunity to visit Strathmore for the first time. I imagine I'm not the only Baltimore-area Rusty Musician who might be more likely to head down to Rockville again for a Strathmore concert, so that 's another nice side benefit.

I'm still not sure why the BSO was so surprised by the huge response, because there are so many community orchestras within 90 minutes of Baltimore and DC, let alone dedicated amateurs who aren't part of any orchestra. The secret is out now, though.

To Adell: The Summertrios program based in Pennsylvania has offered a concerto program for amateur pianists in the past, where you can pay to play with an orchestra, but they aren't doing it this year. They also have a chamber camp program for adult amateurs with a heavy emphasis on piano repertoire, and that IS being offered this year, if you are interested in chamber music as well as concerto repertoire.

Thanks very much for the report, and for passing along the suggestion. TIM.

Thanks Tim and Samira for your responses. I will check out your suggestions.

I had the privilege of performing with the BSO on Tuesday. What a thrill and it was certainly worth the drive home back home in the snow to Harford County. What a brilliant idea. Can't wait for them to do it at the Meyerhoff.

Thanks very much for the report. I hope this project gets to Meyerhoff, too. 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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