Local pianist Daniel Weiser wants people to rethink the way they perceive classical music.
“I think, sadly, what’s happened to classical music is it’s become fossilized,” he said.. “It’s put up on stage with people in tuxedos, and there’s a barrier between the audience and the performers.”
To break that barrier, Weiser is launching a concert series at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation called “Music & Meaning.” The series, made possible by a grant from the Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust, and slated to take place on the first Thursday of each month, will have its inaugural concert on May 2.
Weiser is the founder and artistic director of AmiciMusic, a chamber music organization that brings classical music to intimate and non- traditional concert spaces. The AmiciMusic concerts began when Weiser still lived in Asheville, North Carolina, and he continues to host them at his home in Baltimore.
“I started doing the series out of my house in Guilford, then some people who are members of Baltimore Hebrew came to those concerts, and they suggested that it might be a good thing to try to do at the synagogue itself,” Weiser said.
Each performance of the “Music and Meaning” series will have its own title and theme. The first is called “Jewish Journey,” and will explore the influences that Jewish composers and traditional Jewish music has had on classical music.
The program will feature performances by Weiser, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cantor Ben Ellerin, Emmanuel and Frances Borowsky, playing violin and cello respectively and the Borowsky’s mother, cellist Cecylia Barczyk.
The pieces performed will span centuries including works by 19th century composer Felix Mendelssohn, early 20th century composer Ernest Bloch, and renowned American composer Leonard Bernstein. Weisner will join the Borowsky siblings to perform their original piece In Memorium, written in honor of victims of the Holocaust and those who died during the Soviet purges.
The Borowsky siblings will also perform with Weiser in the second concert on May 23 called “The Folk Spirit,” where the group will play piano trios influenced by folk music, including tangos by Argentinian composer Astor Piazaolla and Jewish composer Paul Schoenfield.
“The idea is that it’s not all Jewish music, but that there is a thematic tie between all the pieces,” Weiser said.
After the first two concerts in May, Weiser said the series will likely take a short break for the summer before starting again this Fall.