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September 10, 2010

Concert Artists of Baltimore season offers welcome rarities

Baltimore's music season gets officially underway -- well, as official as such things can be -- this weekend, with the BSO's annual gala on Saturday and a recital by Russian organist Daniel Zaretsky at Peabody on Sunday. Things will really get rolling from the 19th on. It will be easy, in the ensuing blur, to overlook a lot things, so it's wise to start planning now for your musical thrills and chills.

I know I'll miss quite a few great things -- I can't be everywhere, despite my best efforts -- but I plan to catch as much as I can. One event I'm determined to make is the Oct. 16 season-opener of Concert Artists of Baltimore, an all-Schumann program in honor of the composer's bicentennial. His Piano Concerto may not lack for attention, but it should be rewarding to hear the solo role taken by Ann Schein, the distinguished pianist who retired from the Peabody faculty a few years ago. (I found a remarkable souvenir from her past, posted below.)

Filling out the program is a real rarity, Schumann's

"Missa Sacra." Concert Artists' founding artistic director Ed Polochick suspects this will be the work's Baltimore premiere. The neat thing about an organization that has both a professional orchestra and chorus is the possibility for digging into such diverse repertoire. And the neat thing about an organization with Polochick at the helm is that you can count on some very expressive music-making.

The remainder of Concert Artists' 24th season looks enticing, too: Well-off-the-beaten-path works by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Leonard Bernstein in a November program that also holds a Mozart piano concerto and a choral piece by Randall Thompson; a performance of Beethoven's Ninth in March; a celebration of Rossini in May. As usual, there's also a separate chamber series.

Now, here's that blast from Ann Schein's past -- an impressive Chopin recording made early in her career: 

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:51 PM | | 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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