PERFORMING ARTS

Music Director Marin Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony; rapper Young Jeezy performed at Love.
Music Director Marin Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony; rapper Young Jeezy performed at Love. (By Scott Gries -- Getty Images)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony celebrated the 25th anniversary of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, and the start of Marin Alsop's tenure as the orchestra's music director, with a gala concert on Saturday. If an hour of flashy musical tidbits could hardly showcase Alsop's interpretive profile or the BSO's gifts at nuanced playing, it was nonetheless a professionally played, tightly stage-managed event.

Under evocative lighting and with video images streaming on screens that dominated the stage, the musical selections hurtled forward with barely a break between them. Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" led straightaway into Joan Tower's subtler, knottier "Fanfare No. 1 for the Uncommon Woman." The orchestra's rhythmic clapping connected the Tower work to John Adams's punchy "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" (accompanied by a kinetic piece of video art by Eric Dyer), which concluded with the entrance of the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, which launched right into the Allegretto from Janacek's Sinfonietta.

And so it went -- a hunk of the Verdi Requiem morphing into "Carmina Burana," Flamenco dancers giving way to Chinese dancers, three local choruses and a high school drum line. Best of all, a half-dozen construction workers who helped build the Meyerhoff jogged in for the anvil solos in Verdi's "Anvil Chorus." All told, it was an evening full of surprises -- right down to the exploding propane fire that sent patrons scurrying out of the post-show reception tent like so many well-coiffed mice.

-- Joe Banno

Young Jeezy

Touring rappers tend to gush about the unmatched beauty of the women of whatever city they are in, and Young Jeezy is no exception. At Love on Friday night, Jeezy praised Washington's ladies as the loveliest and insisted he wasn't just attempting to win over the crowd: the Atlanta rapper said he recently made the same declaration on the music show "106th & Park," the hip-hop equivalent of "Meet the Press." Lest the men feel neglected, Jeezy complimented them as well, calling them gangsters repeatedly throughout the evening.

In any case, Jeezy didn't really need to curry favor -- D.C. loves the Snowman. Even before he started slinging compliments, everyone went crazy for tracks such as "J.E.E.Z.Y.," from his 2006 solo album, "The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102," and Jeezy's verse from the remix of Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing," which he punctuates with his trademark wicked laugh.

Further testament to the respect the city has for Jeezy is the fact that the crowd even gave love to Slick Pulla, one of Jeezy's cohorts in the rap group U.S.D.A., and didn't use Slick's performance of the single "Throw This Money" as an opportunity to visit the bathroom or the bar.

After Jeezy snarled through an array of his best-loved works -- U.S.D.A.'s "Corporate Thuggin'," Akon duet "Soul Survivor" and 2005's "Go Crazy," which remains the best use of timpani on a rap record -- he invited everyone in the house to join him onstage and continue the lovefest into the wee hours.

-- Sarah Godfrey


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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