Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holidays (and BSO) in Frederick

Last weekend I discovered that people in the handsome Maryland town of Frederick really like their holidays.

BSO was there Saturday night for a second performance of Handel's Messiah, after a very successful and exciting performance in the Meyerhoff on Friday. We played in the beautiful Weinberg Center for the Arts, which is an old movie theater turned into a performance space. As a matter of face, Ed Polochick, our esteemed Messiah conductor for decades, tells me that he inaugurated the new space a few decades ago!

I had some 30 minutes or so of free time after our bus arrived at the stage door and before getting into concert attire and warming up, so I decided to go for a walk. I have experienced the main street before as a happening place, with many diverse restaurants (let's not forget that Bryan Voltaggio's famous Volt is in Frederick!) that seem to be always at capacity, but this was different yet. Not only were the restaurants crowded, but there were many more people in festively decorated streets and shops, taking in some great holiday atmosphere! Trees were strung with lights to their tops, there was caroling on one corner, handbells on another, free food and drink in many places, horse-drawn carriages taking people up and down the street, tours with people in period costumes, you name it, and it was available! They really know how to have fun up in Frederick. I vowed to come back with my wife and our boys one day, without having to be there on business, and enjoy some of that myself.

The concert was wonderfully attended and received, despite a bit of unwanted accompaniment from an enthusiastic air-conditioning system and a crowded (small) stage. Madeline Adkins played her solos beautifully, then went on to get ready for her wedding day (Tuesday). Let's all wish her a great married life!

-Ivan Stefanovic

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Splitting Logs

Oh, how wonderful this quintessentially American holiday of Thanksgiving is! In this day and age, when families don't see one another much, and when they do, it's a short exchange of thoughts and ideas that mostly run the gamut from "can you get the milk on your way home" and "did you sign the kids' school forms" to "did you turn in your homework" and "please finish your fruit and dessert so you can have time for a shower and practicing," it's so relaxing and it feels so good to have some time off to catch up. A couple of days without rehearsals or late night bus rides from run-out concerts make a world of difference. In my household, that can mean splitting logs while my 6 year-old tells me all he learned about the lives of Native Americans and pilgrims: "Did you know that kids had to pull up the mattresses against the walls in the morning then do chores all day and could only play twice?" Playing Master Mind or Scrabble while the wood is burning in the fireplace and the turkey is spreading its aroma throughout the house. Enjoying a hike through Loch Raven on a crisp autumn day and seeing deer, foxes and an arm-length bass that a fisherman caught in the lake.

And not touching my instrument for a few days. It makes me grow fonder (and does wonders for the physical ailments we all earn during decades of using our muscles in all those unnatural and twisted ways), so when I return to it, it feels fresh and new, and the hunger to make music is so much stronger.

That was certainly true today, when we rehearsed Ed Polochick's so wonderfully unique interpretation of Handel's Messiah, which we perform Friday, Dec 3 at 7:30pm, as well as the Nutcracker suite with the Baltimore Ballet, which we play on Saturday, Dec 4 at 11am. If you've never heard Ed's Messiah, or haven't in a while, it's not to be missed. He makes it sound fresh and exciting in a way that not too many conductors can. And what a better way to start the Holiday season then with your BSO performing The Nutcracker?! While you're at the Meyerhoff, check out the wonderful decorations that are up in the lobby, take a few photos with your little ones, and don't forget to purchase tickets for the Holiday Spectacular, a uniquely Baltimore tradition featuring Maureen McGovern. Check out this video of Dancing Santas or the Holiday Spectacular Jingle, look at the dates we offer (Dec 10-19), and get those tickets before it's too late! Even if you don't have kids to bring, don't worry, this is a show with plenty of entertainment for all ages.

Hope to see you in our halls this December!

-Ivan Stefanovic