Reprinted from yesterday's late edition

Between the popular music of today and that of Victor Herbert there is a chasm almost as wide and deep as the one that separates us from Palestrina. Two world wars, the rise of jazz and rock, atonality and electronic music, not to mention such items as "My Fair Lady" and "Guys and Dolls" have changed drastically the way we listen to music.

But having faded as a popular composer, Herbert is now coming back as a classic - perhaps the most accessible classic of them all.

Twice last weekend in the Baird Auditorium, a Victor Herbert program provoked wild enthusiasm in standing-room audiences, and if the Smithsonian were a profit-making organization, there would certainly be plans for a road tour.

I wish there were - I would fly a considerable distance to hear Myra Merritt sing "Kiss Me Again" again, or Ellen Lang, a mezzo, statuesque in voice as in her stage presence, repeat her splendid "Sweethearts." The whole cast was excellent: soprano Jane Garzo in the "Italian Street Song," tenor Christopher King in several love songs, bass Marvin Finney in "Everyday Is Ladies' Day With Me" and pianist William Huckaby in a virtuoso "March of the Toys."