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June 6, 2011

Looking ahead to 2011-12: Washington Performing Arts Society

In my usual rush and blur, I keep forgetting to post some news about next season that will be of interest to music lovers. Of course, you've probably already learned all of these details that I am so belatedly getting to, but just in case you're as behind as I perpetually am, here goes.

I'll start off with the Washington Performing Arts Society's 2011-12 lineup. But before I do, I must digress.

I know Baltimore is just the coolest place and just overflowing with cultural activity, but, come on, don't you wish we could hear the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique right here, instead of having to schlep to DC? Wouldn't it be nice if the Philadelphia Orchestra stopped by, like it did ages ago, instead of whooshing right past us on the way to the Kennedy Center or Strathmore?

Music communities benefit from having visiting orchestras -- all that sonic and interpretive variety. It doesn't take away from the hometown ensemble(s); it intensifies the whole scene. End of sermon.

Next season, WPAS will import the ...

Budapest Festival Orchestra, a very hot ensemble directed by Ivan Fischer, performing Bartok (including the Piano Concerto No. 2 with András Schiff) and Schubert. John Eliot Gardiner leads the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in an all-Beethoven concert. If you've resisted the whole authenticity movement in music, Gardiner and his band may well make a convert of you. They know how to make Beethoven sound truly revolutionary.

The storied Vienna Philharmonic's appearance, presented in conjunction with the Kennedy Center, offers a program of Mozart, Sibelius and Strauss conducted by Lorin Maazel. And the excellent European Union Youth Orchestra, led by Vladimir Ashkenazy and featuring violin soloist Pinchas Zukerman.

Those ensembles will be at the Kennedy Center. The Philadelphia Orchestra, with conductor Charles Dutoit and violinist James Ehnes (in the Mendelssohn concerto), will perform at Strathmore -- and, hey, maybe the orchestra will be out of bankruptcy by then.

WPAS also has starry soloists lined up at the Kennedy Center, including mezzo-soprano Susan Graham; violinists Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman and Stefan Jackiw, among others; and such pianists as Till Fellner and Orion Weiss.

At Strathmore, the solo list looks stellar, too, with recitals by violinist Gil Shaham and Vadim Repin; pianists Leif Ove Andsnes, Yefim Bronfman, Simone Dinnerstein, Garrick Ohlsson and Murray Perahia. The Emerson String Quartet, with pianist Wu Han, is also scheduled there.

WPAS has a series at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue as well, featuring such top-flight artists as pianists Jeremy Denk and Jonathan Biss, and violinist Julia Fischer.

The jazz offerings next season by WPAS are just as impressive as the classical, including Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. You'll also find concerts by Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel performs and Sweet Honey In The Rock on action-packed 2011-12 WPAS calendar.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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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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