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October 26, 2010

In time for Halloween, an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired program of songs

Opera fans in the area know the name Madeleine Gray very well. The mezzo-soprano memorably sang several roles with the sadly expired Baltimore Opera Company. She has also done notable work locally with Washington National Opera, Opera Vivente and Young Victorian Theatre Company.

There's an enticing opportunity to hear her on Sunday in a program at Harford Community College tailor-made for Halloween, featuring songs inspired by life and words of Baltimore icon Edgar Allan Poe: "Telltale Hearts and Twilight Fancies."

Gray will be accompanied by pianist Bill Scanlan Murphy with what is bound to be great care -- he's her husband, not to mention music director of Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, a composer for BBC shows and a naval historian on the side.

The singer got the idea for the recital from last season's vibrant Poe exhibit at the BMA, which stressed his widespread influence. The happy coincidence of a concert date on Oct. 31 sealed the deal -- it was a perfect time for some Poe-found music.

It looks like a very cool selection of repertoire, starting with

a song said to be Poe's own favorite. Settings of Poe poems by a favorite composer of the Victorians, Michael Balfe, will be included, along with recent examples of the author's words turned into music.

There's room, too, for pieces by Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, Duparc and others that contain spooky, Poe-like texts. And, to show that Poe's brand of horror still has legs (or necks), Gray will also sing "Have a Little Priest" from Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd."

The recital is at 3 p.m. Sunday, leaving plenty of time for trick-or-treating later on.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:24 AM | | Comments (1)


This is my mom! Please come see this!!!!!! It will be verrrry fun!

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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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