In an all-Tchaikovsky program, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra joined forces with the Baltimore School for the Arts, presenting a program that highlighted some of the more classic works of the composer and the famed choreography of George Balanchine.
The beautiful and opulent playing from the BSO strings provided a perfectly supportive palette for the dancers…
The first half of the program featured just the orchestra under Music Director Marin Alsop and began with the “Romeo and Juliet” “Fantasy Overture.” Alsop gave this a read that perhaps favored expediency over subtlety, but even so, the orchestra still managed to shimmer and shine. Lush, sweeping melodies from the strings and blaring, foreboding statements from the horns provided the usual highlights of this work written during the composer’s still relative youth.
Next was a six-movement “Suite” from the perennial “Swan Lake.” Here Alsop brought forth significantly more nuance than in the fantasy overture, aided by the sublime playing of many soloists from within the orchestra. The opening, familiar theme was played with grandeur and direction, if a tad quickly. The middle movements highlighted several principal players. Concertmaster Jonathan Carney was particularly emotive and, though he never completely left his seat, was perhaps inspired by the movement to come on the program’s second half.
The Baltimore School for the Arts, part of the Baltimore City Public Schools, is one of the very few high school programs in the nation permitted to perform the works of George Balanchine, famed choreographer and co-founder of the New York City Ballet. This special permission comes through the school’s association with Deborah Wingert who staged this production and danced as soloist under Balanchine.
The second half of the program involved the combined efforts of the BSO and dancers with Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.” This impassioned, four-movement work is a staple of the string orchestra repertoire and one of Balanchine’s more famed pieces.
The beautiful and opulent playing from the BSO strings provided a perfectly supportive palette for the dancers, who though high school students, can hardly be considered amateur. The quality of training is evident and did justice to the inspired choreography. Though mostly ensemble and small-groups were featured, soloists were handily up to the task as well. With certainty, several of the young performers will go on to fulfilling dance careers, but, perhaps more importantly, all will benefit in life from the fruits of such rigorous training in an artistic medium.
Running Time: Two hours, including an intermission.