Ma adds bang to bow of Strathmore Center

Upcoming perfs include Barbara Cook, Arlo Guthrie

BETHESDA, Md. — After a 20-year drum roll, the $100 million Music Center at Strathmore debuted here last week to a full schedule of performances and a wink at the mighty Kennedy Center just down the road.

The inaugural performance on Saturday was a gala concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which will make the glittering Strathmore its second home with a 25-plus performance sked each year. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was featured along with the world premiere of Michael Hersch’s “Arrache.” Yuri Temirkanov conducted.

Upcoming performers include the Mingus Big Band, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Barbara Cook and Arlo Guthrie.

Located just a few miles north of D.C., the sweeping facility houses a1,976-seat concert hall and an expansive education center with rehearsal spaces, classrooms and private studios. It was designed by architects William Rawn Associates, acousticians Kirkegaard Associates and theater designers Theater Projects Consultants.

Arrival of the BSO into the back yard of the Kennedy Center’s National Symphony Orchestra signals a new kind of rivalry between the two orgs, albeit a friendly one.

Area impresarios believe there is plenty of room for both orchestras here, and that the BSO’s presence will even create new auds that will support both. Indeed, Kennedy Center prexy Michael Kaiser notes that in the last 25 years, the area’s cultural life has grown exponentially and so have audiences. “This augurs well for the future of Strathmore and the entire region’s performing arts scene,” he said.

The facility will host regular performances by the National Philharmonic and feature events staged by the Washington Performing Arts Society, among other orgs.

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