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August 7, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch left imprint on Baltimore as BSO principal pops conductor

UPDATE: A statement from current Baltimore Symphony principal conductor Jack Everly has been added below.

The sudden death of composer Marvin Hamlisch at the age of 68 has touched folks in many places, including cities where audiences got to experience him in person on a regular basis.

Mr. Hamlisch was principal pops conductors with several orchestras over the years, including the Baltimore Symphony, where he served from 1996 to 2000. (He is seen in this photo at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in 2000.)

Such posts gave him an opportunity to show off his charm and wit, as well as his music.

"He was a bundle of energy," said BSO violinist Greg Mulligan, "a real house on fire.

"He was very quick and very humorous, a great joke-teller, and an amazing showman. He loved a lot of different kinds of music and, obviously, was ...

great at conducting his own stuff."

Mr. Hamlisch was engaged by the BSO to give the languishing pops series a boost. It worked.

"His energy definitely had an impact on our pops programming," Mulligan said, "and he became a favorite of the pops audiences."

After leaving the BSO Pops, Mr. Hamlisch took up a similar position with the National Symphony in Washington. He developed relationships with quite a few other orchestras. At the time of his death, he was principal pops conductor for the Dallas, Milwaukee, Pasadena, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle symphonies.

Word is that he was about to be named principal pops conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. And he was slated to lead the New York Philharmonic next New Year's Eve.

BSO Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly issued this statement Wednesday:

'Among the pivotal people in my life, one singular sensation was Marvin Hamlisch. After I conducted a production of "A Chorus Line," he asked me to take over his National Company of "They're Playing Our Song" and it was during that tour that he requested my presence for his symphony orchestra concerts. This was before he started conducting, so I witnessed his brilliant piano playing and humor from very close!

'Marvin first put me in front of symphony orchestras and this is where I am honored to be today. Working with Marvin always meant wonderful music-making and (of course) sharing the laughter. His wonderful years with the BSO SuperPops are warmly remembered by all. I consider myself fortunate to have known him and will miss him greatly.' -- Jack Everly



Posted by Tim Smith at 12:48 PM | | 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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