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Renowned pianist Andre Watts to perform with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

  • Published in Music

Andre Watts credit Steve J. Sherman copyAndre Watts performs with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore and Meyerhoff Hall in Baltimore. COURTESY PHOTO BY STEVE J. SHERMAN  The beginning of pianist Andre Watts’s career was like a sunburst, introduced as a teenager onto the national stage to play with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Now, with a music career that has spanned more than 50 years, Watts is returning to an orchestra with whom he has played many times – the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore as well as Meyerhoff  Hall in Baltimore on the weekend of Nov. 17 through Nov. 19.

“Mr. Watts has had a long and very popular association with the BSO, having first performed with the orchestra in 1973,” said Miryam Yardumian, interim artistic administrator. “He has appeared with the BSO a dozen times since.”

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Strathmore concert highlights diversity in Jewish music

  • Published in Music

Yasmin Levy 3 1 copyLadino singer Yasmin Levy collaborates with Klezmatics at Strathmore.   COURTESY PHOTO  The concert series currently playing out at the Music Center of Strathmore is celebrating global music and divergent cultures.

“The thematic thread through Strathmore’s 2017-2018 season is ‘Windows,’ concerts in which international artists share the sonic riches of their heritage and homeland,” said Joi Brown, vice president of programming. “This is our effort to showcase music that reflects different perspectives, places, cultures, and eras.”

However, the Nov. 7 concert highlights the musical diversity within one culture alone.

It pairs Israeli singer Yasmin Levy, who performs primarily in Ladino – Judeo-Spanish language – with the Klezmatics, an ensemble that sings classical klezmer music from Eastern Europe.

“I started to sing songs in Ladino, then modern, Spanish and flamenco and moved to Turkish and Persian songs and Brazilian tango,” said the Jerusalem-born Levy.

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conquers MoCo

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P4010213 copy Baltimore SymphonyMarin Alsop conducts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. COURTESY PHOTO  The story of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” has had a lasting cultural impact.

Many literary critics and authors consider the classic book by the 17th-century Spanish writer to be the first modern novel, with an immense influence on language that continues to the present day. Consider the expression “tilting at windmills” or the word “quixotic.”

“Don Quixote” and Cervantes’s dramatic life also have inspired other works in many artistic genres – including short stories, novels, ballets, operas, classical music pieces, plays, films, and of course, the hit Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha.”

Among the classical music pieces that have drawn inspiration from “Don Quixote” is the eponymous tone poem by Richard Strauss for cello, viola, and orchestra, which will be part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s program for their Oct. 21 concert at the Music Center at Strathmore.

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Multicultural music at Strathmore

  • Published in Music

Tararam copyTaharam group opens the Washington Jewish Music Festival. COURTESY PHOTO  When cultural organizations interact, they enrich the community.

AFI Silver Theatre, AMP Powered by Strathmore, the Music Center at Strathmore, and Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center – all Montgomery County arts groups – are serving as sites for the 11-day-long Washington Jewish Music Festival.

The Festival, the flagship of the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington D.C.’s year-round music program, starts formally on Nov. 2 with a group called Taharam, considered “Israel’s Stomp.” It continues through Nov. 12 with the silent film version of “Humoresque” and a performance by Nomadica, which performs music of Arabs, Roma, and Jews.

“The 19th Washington Jewish Music Festival’s lineup is a very exciting alchemy – it brings together some of the most prestigious, original and boundary-pushing artists from around the world working in the Jewish space, and encourages them to experiment in the nation’s capital,” said Festival Director Ilya Tovbis. “Additionally, we’re doubling down on highlighting and elevating the work and artistry of local D.C. musicians whose output spans hip-hop, klezmer, bossa nova, and cantorial repertoires.”

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Folk Festival Draws Hundreds in Takoma Park

Takoma Park Folk Festival Logo

TAKOMA PARK – Hundreds of Takoma Park residents gathered Sunday afternoon for the city's annual folk festival to celebrate cultural diversity.

"Today's event is terrific, one, we have perfect weather for it, second we have amazing organizers who have taken up the planning of the folk festival this year and they've done an amazing job," said Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart. "It appeals to all different tastes," she added.

Set on the grounds of Takoma Park Middle School, the festival attracted musicians, dancers, and artists from across the region who displayed their talents and crafts to an observant crowd that strolled between booths and stages.

"I think it's terrific, the music is good, people seem to be enjoying themselves, the weather is perfect, and hopefully next year it's going to be bigger, bolder, and stronger," said 40-year Takoma Park resident and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

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Baby we all live in a reggae Yellow Dubmarine

DubmarineYellow Dubmarine performing at Strathmore AMP. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  As soon as Yellow Dubmarine started their set with a cover of The Beatles “Norwegian Wood,” you could tell this was not your average tribute band. With horns replacing George Harrison’s distinctive sitar intro, and the songs’ folksy atmospherics replaced by a steady reggae pulse, the audience Friday at Strathmore AMP quickly piled onto the dance floor to groove to Beatles classics reimagined as reggae jams.

“It was just an idea that came to us one day,” said bassist Aaron Glazer. “We started with just four people and then grew, with percussion and horns, and it took on a life of its own.”

The seven-piece band featured a three-piece horn section, along with a rhythm section of guitar, bass, drums, hand percussion, and keyboard. This extensive lineup allowed them to vary their arrangements throughout the night.

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Takoma Park record label fosters homegrown talent

Tired of being forced to relinquish artistic and creative control to major labels, Grammy-winning producer and Takoma Park native Charlie Pilzer decided to forge his own path. He founded Azalea City Recordings in 1996.

For Pilzer, the label gives his job as a recording engineer and producer a more personal touch.

“I’m immersed in music hours and hours every day. I’ve worked on well over 2000 albums. The cool thing about the label is that it keeps it on a personal level. It doesn’t become a factory to me,” said Pilzer.

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Daymé Arocena brings modern Cuban sounds to Strathmore AMP

Dayme Arocena1Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena (center) with bassist Rafael Aldama (left), and drummer Raul Herrera (right). PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   “Give these people more alcohol,” yelled Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena in response to the quietly seated crowd at Strathmore AMP on Friday.

In the end, her pleas worked, and the audience got out of their seats en masse to groove to Arocena’s unique take on Cuban music.

“I’m not trying to make something brand new, I’m just trying to follow my sense,” said Arocena. “I’m from the 21st century. My music isn’t going to sound like what was made 50 years ago; it’s going to sound how I sound.”

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Brews and beat shine at first ever record fair in Silver Spring

RECORD FAIR PICTURE 1Vendor Dave Hoffer stands in front of his records. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   SILVER SPRING — Barrels of beer were covered with vinyl records, while organizer and c, played dance tracks from the top of a fermenter at the first ever Silver Spring Record Fair on Sunday at Denizens Brewing Company.

“It’s a way to spread the love of vinyl around Montgomery County, to bring folks into records together to listen to good music, have some beers, and buy some records,” said Megan, who was the organizer of the event.

The event lasted for five hours and featured 20 vendors and six different DJs who spanned many different genres. Three of them, Bobby Babylon, Leon City Sounds, and Megan himself, mainly played world music and reggae.

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Singer-songwriter uses real life tragedy as inspiration

Craig Cummings PhotoCraig Cummings (left) and bassist Greg Hardin (right) performing at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. COURTESY PHOTO BY MAX HORAN   GAITHERSBURG — Inspired by friends who were forced to redefine themselves after the end of a relationship, D.C. area singer-songwriter Craig Cummings sang about the joys and downfalls of love in the Gaithersburg Arts Barn on Saturday to celebrate the release of his new album “Gone Baby Gone.”

The seven-track, 27-minute-long album, issued on Takoma Park’s Azalea City label, tells the story of a man dealing with a long-term relationship falling apart. The album shows all facets of the relationship, from the man's first attempts to win the unnamed woman’s love to the aftermath of the breakup.

“I was running into people that had been in relationships that were ending, and they were struggling with how to be alone after all that time. They were asking themselves, ‘How do I redefine myself as a person without the context of a relationship?’” said Craig.

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