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March 30, 2010

Washington Performing Arts Society announces star-packed 2010-11 season

Looks like the Washington Performing Arts Society will be batting a "Thousand" during its 2010-11 season. The lineup includes a performance in October of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 -- the one nicknamed "Symphony of a Thousand" because of the forces required -- conducted by Valery Gergiev, leading the Mariinsky Orchestra and Choral Arts Society of Washington. This is bound to be one hot ticket (speaking of which, WPAS season subscriptions go on sale Friday).

Another Russian orchestra is on the schedule, this one led by the man who gave Gergiev his first big break years ago -- Yuri Temirkanov. Remember him? He has canceled so many guest-conducting engagements in the States in recent years, including with his former orchestra in Baltimore, that he seems quite the stranger now. But he's likely to be at the helm of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic when it performs Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 (with Alicia Weilerstein) and Brahms' Fourth at Strathmore for WPAS in April 2011.

And speaking of missing maestros, there's


James Levine, whose health issues have forced him to cancel a slew of performances this season. But, if all goes well, he'll make his first WPAS appearance as music director of the Boston Symphony at the Kennedy Center in March 2011, leading a Mozart-Schumann program.

Other orchestras on the series: Dresden Staatskapelle, conducted by Daniel Harding (Kennedy Center); NHK Symphony Orchestra of Japan, Andre Previn conducting (Strathmore); Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit conducting (Kennedy Center).

It looks to me like the list of WPAS recitalists for 2010-11 is about as starry as it could get these days:

soprano Renee Fleming; mezzo Joyce DiDonato; pianists Evgeny Kissin (all-Liszt program), Maurizio Pollini (playing the last three Beethoven sonatas), Emanuel Ax, András Schiff, Marc-André Hamelin, Till Fellner, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Simone Dinnerstein; violnists Anne-Sophie Mutter (playing the three Brahms sonatas), Hilary Hahn (Baltimore's own, as we like to call her, and she's including works by Ives on Antheil on her program), Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman; cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Amit Peled (another Baltimore connection -- he teaches at Peabody).

There's much more, including chamber music and jazz, to round out a very impressive collection of talent.

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:46 AM | | Comments (2)


Mr. Smith, where did you get the details from? Clicking your link takes me to the page of the WPAS where there's no press release I can find, the calendar only goes up to June and clicking on Classical next to "Experience the Best!" is just a review of things....up to June!

I travel the US and Europe going to opera and concerts and I literally go to hundreds of web pages a year trying to see what's on. The vast majority of pages are hell to find info (pieces being performed by who(m?) & when) quickly from.

Look at that WPAS page page: you'd think that by clicking on James "Hahahahaha! I'm so canceling on you!" Levine/Fleming/Ma, it would take me to a list of the concerts the Society is presenting. Oh, how naive I am. The BSO page is just as bad; the press release says nothing about dates or programs and the calendar is a pain because clicking the headline (Beethoven 7th) on a particular date takes you to another page, one then has to hit the back button to get back to the calendar. How do I know if the concerts are the same, some orchestras drop/add pieces on different days but it's still listed "Beethoven 7th".

This isn't rocket science, is the concept of listing every single concert, the dates, the pieces and the performers on one page so difficult?

Sorry, a big pet peeve, obviously. :-)

Please let those organizations know how you feel. That's the only way things might change for the better. I've spent too much time on the BSO's site myself, going back and forth to try to get the info I'm seeking. Strange set-up. As for WPAS, they sent out a press release announcing the season, which is where my info came from. Because subscriptions don't go on sale until Friday, maybe they're waiting to post all the details then. Just a guess, though. Good luck. TIM

"Hell to find info" indeed -- couldn't possibly agree with you more, Henry! I've written to a bunch of 'em about their "labyrinthine layouts" (I hear they're playing Sibelius next weekend -- what, ho, a minotaur!!!), and while some have improved markedly in the last few seasons (read: if you think the sites suck now, then you should have seen them about 3-4 years ago!!!), most are still treading water. Whether we have to blame staffing issues or apathy is our guess...

(Case in point: the Cleveland Orchestra. Their site was absolutely terrible, almost like going to a restaurant with a coat room and lavatory, but no dining room. Now, as of the _very_ recent past, it's quite a bit better, though not what I'd call "great" or "perfect.")

You would think that one of the most important elements -- the freakin' programming! - would be the most visible and accessible.

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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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