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The Beat: BSOPulse Announces Second Season

Wye Oak performs at BSOPulse
Wye Oak (Photo by Jordan August Photography)

BSOPulse, a concert series that pairs top indie rock bands with musicians from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has announced a stellar second season with Houndmouth, Brett Dennen, Lake Street Dive and Lower Dens.

The announcement comes after a wildly successful first season that included performances by Dawes, Wye Oak, Dr. Dog and The Lone Bellow.

“We are so proud that Baltimore has embraced the melding of these two genres of music,” Toby Blumenthal, executive producer of BSOPulse, said via email. “For many, there is a newfound appreciation for musicians of the Baltimore Symphony and that’s what we want to accomplish.”

The concerts, held at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, kick off with a piece from a select ensemble of BSO musicians. Those pieces are deliberately chosen from some of classical music’s most innovative composers — the first season featured Philip Glass, John Luther Adams, Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland — to appeal to the eclectic audience, some members of which may have never attended a symphony show.

Following the BSO piece, the band would come out and play a set, followed by a collaboration between the band and the BSO ensemble — the cornerstone of the BSOPulse series, and a part of the performance Blumenthal hopes to expand.

“During the evaluation, selection and booking process, it’s just as important to us as it is to each of these artists to have some level of knowledge, interest and background in the classical work,” Blumenthal said. “For example, the members of Lake Street Dive attended the New England Conservatory. Jana Hunter of Lower Dens is very much part of the planning process for her performance. The music of these artists this season lends its self to be heard side-by-side with an orchestra.”

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Dr. Dog (Photo by Jordan August Photography)

I personally attended the Dawes and Wye Oak BSOPulse shows, and was truly blown away by the collaborations. It’s already an audible treat to hear rock bands in such an acoustically impeccable venue, but the addition of BSO musicians added prolific layers to Dawes’ alt-country/Americana sound and Wye Oak’s minimalist sound.

Prior to the show, the experience begins when patrons walk through the doors of the Meyerhoff, as there are local food and drink vendors and various performances by local musicians.

“Every aspect about walking through the doors of the Meyerhoff will continue to feel unique,” Blumenthal said. “We love featuring ‘local.’ Local food — some of the best Baltimore restaurants — local beer, local whiskey, local music. The venue has become a great place to hang and enjoy happy hour and pre-show concerts. This season, we have tasked Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter with curating all pre-concert entertainment. We have some great local musicians that deserve as much recognition as the artists on the big stage!”

Food vendors include Colette, Parts & Labor, The Charmery, Dooby’s, Dangerously Delicious, Ryleigh’s Oyster, Pen & Quill and Neopol Savory Smokery, and beverage vendors include Union Craft Brewing, The Brewer’s Art, Flying Dog Brewery, The Baltimore Whiskey Company and Crispin Hard Cider.

Tickets for BSOPulse are on sale Saturday, July 9 at noon via bsopulse.org. A limited number of VIP reserved seat packages are available.

About THE BEAT: Marc Shapiro, a lifelong musician and concert-goer, writes about regional and national musicians, concerts, festivals and the music industry. He is managing editor at the Baltimore Jewish Times, a sister publication of Baltimore Style. He can be reached at [email protected].

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