A New Classic The BSO’s New Music Festival makes orchestra accessible.

By Katrina Schmidt



Photo by Jason Dixson Photography.Baltimore’s summer arts scene has a new kid in town — the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival.

Presenting the latest and greatest in orchestral and chamber music, the three-day event will take place at a trio of venues across the city. Curated by BSO director Marin Alsop and world-renowned cellist Inbal Segev, the festival will showcase both orchestral and chamber performances.

From July 13-15, each evening of performances presents a different take on the latest classical music.  The shows are at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the Peabody Institute and a less conventional venue — Station North pizza mainstay Joe Squared.

The event “really appeals to a very different kind of group of people,” Alsop says. With a variety of artists and styles, Alsop and Segev hope the program will draw those who might not otherwise explore classical music.

Featuring Baltimore native Christopher Rouse and Peabody instructor Kevin Puts, the festival’s connections to Charm City are clear—but it aims to appeal universally, too. Musicians and composers from all over the world are slated for the festival, including Polish soprano Agata Zubel, Iranian-born composer Gity Razaz and German-born, Syrian-American pianist Malek Jandali.

“It’s fantastic that we can combine these composers who have a Baltimore connection with artists who have international backgrounds,” Alsop says.

The festival opens at the Peabody Institute’s Griswold Hall, featuring Zubel’s “Labyrinth,” among other works. Zubel will provide the vocals for the chamber performance,  which includes three BSO premieres and the Baltimore premiere of Razaz’s “The Legend of Sigh.”

“We tried to reflect in the chamber concert the composers that are being performed in the orchestra concert,” Segev says. Zubel and Puts will be performed at both shows.

Friday night’s main event is the chamber jam at Joe Squared—home to the city’s best pizza, according to Alsop.

“We had to have pizza,” she jokes. The bar setting is unorthodox, but that’s what she and Segev intended. “We’re hoping that people who might not have a lot of experience in new music will come and listen and participate.”

Saturday rounds out the event with a pre-show block party and roundtable discussion with nearly all of the composers featured. Food trucks and live music kick off the evening, followed by a question-and-answer session and orchestral performance.

Alsop and Segev anticipate that the festival will have something for everyone.

“You don’t have to know anything about music to enjoy it,” Alsop says.

Shows

Chamber Concert: Agata Zubel’s Labyrinth
At Griswold Hall at the Peabody Institute. July 13 at 8 p.m.

Chamber Jam
At Joe Squared. July 14 at 8 p.m.

Orchestral Concert: Marin Conducts The City
At the Meyerhoff. July 15 at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $15 for July 13. July 14 chamber jam and July 15 orchestral concert are free and open to the public. 410-783-8000 or BSOmusic.org.

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