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June 17, 2011

Music and theater stories for your reading pleasure

For the benefit of those who do not automatically find every breathless bit of my prose, I just wanted you to mention two stories that appear elsewhere on the Sun site. Both happen to have string quartets in common.

Adventurous music lovers can read about the cool group called Rhymes with Opera, which performs an intriguing program titled "Criminal Intent" at 6 p.m. Saturday at Windup Space.

In addition to the regular members of the ensemble (two composers, three singers), the West Wend String Quartet will participate, backing some of the operas on the program and also playing a set of works by Kyle Gann, Alfred Schnittke and Rhymes with Opera founding member Ruby Fulton.

Theater and music fans would find it well worth a trip to ...

the Olney Theatre Center for a well-paced production of Michael Hollinger's "Opus." The play takes a no-holds-barred look at a (fictional) string quartet which is facing personal (or personnel) and artistic crises.

Classical music and musicians don't get a great deal of attention from playwrights. Hollinger succeeds quite well, I think, at capturing the milieu and the motivations of this world. (Even the little details ring true, as when a young violist auditioning for a vacancy in the quartet worries about dental insurance.)

Like Terrence McNally's "The Lisbon Traviata," "Opus" takes a questionable turn at the end, but, hey, I've known some classical compositions that do the same.


Posted by Tim Smith at 1:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens

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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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