BWW Reviews: Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone Join Baltimore Symphony's 2014-15 Season

BWW Reviews: Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone Join Baltimore Symphony's 2014-15 Season

It was one of the most incredible experiences I've had sitting on the stage of the Josephy Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, just a few feet from Maestra Marin Alsop as she conducted the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra play highlights from the just announced 2014-15 season. What a clever way of introducing the media to next season. And to top off this incredible morning, we were privileged to hear the incredible Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg rehearse the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with the BSO.

Music Director Alsop took the microphone to welcome the assorted media to the first-ever presentation of highlights of the new season allowing the press to actually sit on the stage alongside the BSO musicians, a once in a lifetime opportunity. I chose to sit near Concertmaster Jonathan Carney.

Alsop explained the theme of next season would be to explore themes of spirituality and transcendence. She announced that the BSO would celebrate its 20th anniversary at its second home at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD by adding a Sunday Matinee series and presenting an anniverary concert on February 5, 2015 featuring Garrick Ohlsson performing Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto as well as orchestral showpieces by Respighi, "The Pines of Rome" and "Church Windows".

Another change was expanding the popular "Off the Cuff" series to five concerts.

There will be a Gala Concert celebrating Baltimore and the 200th Anniversary of the "Star Spangled Banner" on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Alsop will lead the BSO in Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" joined by Center Stage's Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah as narrator, and "Old American Songs" performed by the Morgan State University Choir. Also on the program will be Grofe's "Ode to the Star Spangled Banner" and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".

For theater lovers, Leonard Bernstein's Operetta CANDIDE will be given a semi-staged production featuring Tony winner Patti LuPone as the "Old Lady" (June 11-14) and her EVITA co-star and Tony winner actor Mandy Patinkin will be performing his DRESS CASUAL concert January 22-25.

Then, Alsop began to highlight the season with excerpts from various programs. First was the amazing "Rapture" by Christopher Rouse. This was followed by Mahler's Symphony #3 highlighted by Brian Prechtl on the bass drum and muted trumpets. Next was a snippet of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony's slow movement with a beautiful solo by Principal Horn player, Phil Munds. Finally, the BSO played the wondrous Overture from CANDIDE. Two other Bernstein pieces to be played will be the gorgeous "Chichester Psalms" and his "Symphony No. 1 ("Jeremicah") which will be recorded on Naxos.

Four new members of the BSO were then introduced: James Wyman (principal timpani), Rebekah Newman (4th chair viola), Nathaniel Hepler (trumpet), and Lisa Steltenpohl (principal viola).

Alsop then brought on the talented Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg to rehearse the complex Shostakovich Violin
Concerto #1. She played the first three movements before lunch and it was just plain stunning sitting on stage so close to the soloist. While the first movement was full of tenderness, emotion, and melancholy, the second movement soared. The woodwinds seemed to be playing children's games. It was fun watching Salerno-Sonnenberg rocking back and forth, stamping her foot as she played. I even heard her tell Alsop to "push the tempo". The third movement featured the french horns and was very solomn.

It was truly a day to remember. Check out Salerno-Sonnenberg Friday and Saturday night, March 7 and 8. You will be treated to a performance by a great artist. Also on the program are two pieces by Rachmaninoff, his "Vocalist" and "Symphonic Dances".

The BSO also has a wonderful new web site, where you can hear Alsop talk about Bernstein's CANDIDE and see the entire new concert season.

Photo Credit: Charles Shubow

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Charles Shubow Originally from Boston, Charles' first college show was "Barefoot in the Park," he played the role of the telephone repairman. Next came "How to Succeed..." in which he played in the ensemble and then Chairman of the Board. He appeared in "Fiddler on the Roof" at the White Marsh Dinner Theatre as Lazar Wolf. Charles' daughter Britt played one of Tevye's younger daughters. Britt later completed a five year stint in Broadway's "Mamma Mia!" as the Sophie understudy. Charles conducts theatre trips to Broadway shows as the "Shubow Shuttle."

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