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June 1, 2011

Mobtown Modern, Baltimore Symphony celebrate music of Osvaldo Golijov

Osvaldo Golijov is one of several compelling contemporary composers who do not get nearly enough attention in Baltimore, so this week's little Golijov confluence involving Mobtown Modern and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is all the more noteworthy.

Mobtown starts it off at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Windup Space with a performance of "Ayre," the Argentine composer's song cycle reflecting on the 15th-century mingling in Spain of three cultures: Jewish, Christian, Arab.

As Golijov has written, "With a little bend, a melody goes from ...

Jewish to Arab to Christian. How connected these cultures are and how terrible it is when they don't understand each other ... somehow harmony was [once] possible between these civilizations."

The 40-minute "Ayre" (the title is medieval Spanish for "melody") incorporates texts in several languages. It is scored for soprano voice, flute, clarinet, horn, violin, cello, double bass, harp, accordion, ronroco/guitar, percussion and laptop. The Mobtown performance will feature soprano Lara Bruckmann.

This concert is part of the "Synchronicity" project launched this season, an association between Mobtown Modern and the BSO.

The BSO's nod to Golijov comes in the form of "Sidereus," a work the orchestra co-commissioned through the Henry Fogel Consortium (the BSO is one of 35 ensembles participating in this project saluting Fogel, past president of the League of American Orchestras).

"Sidereus," which premiered last fall in Memphis, takes its name from "Sidereus Nuncius," Galileo's text about observing our moon and the moons of Jupiter through a telescope. In Golijov's work, a theme representing the moon undergoes both a telescopic and micropscopic examination, "so that the textures, the patterns from which the melody emerges and into which it dissolves, point to a more molecular, atomic reality," the composer writes.

Marin Alsop conducts this BSO program, which also features music of Brahms and Britten. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday at Strathmore; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday at Meyerhoff.  

Here are two extremely different excerpts from Golijov's "Ayre" that give you an idea of the work's remarkable musical and emotional range:


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BSO, Clef Notes, Marin Alsop

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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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