Concerted Reaction by George Barany and Markand Thakar
"Midrash" by Markand Thakar (September 2014)

This puzzle is the result of a chance reconnection with George Barany, my Wagner JHS Class-of-'68 classmate: I happened to see his name as author of a New YorkTimes puzzle and sent him a note. Having discovered a mutual appreciation for music, baseball, and Andy Borowitz, we decided to collaborate on this little number. (And that's "collaborate" in a very loose sense of the word, as of course George did most of the work.)

The theme of the puzzle is the 2014-15 season of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra of which I've been the artistic director for the past 10 years (71-/86-Across). The major theme entries include works from three of the subscription concerts. A little night music for Gabriel is the Fauré Nocturne (55-Across), to be performed in November. The Nocturne is a lovely work for strings, part of the incidental music to the play Shylock by Edmond Harnaucourt, an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (you liked the original? Silly you!). Eight will be enough for the Schubert Octet (46-Across), to be performed in our February, 2015 smaller-ensemble concert, which also includes Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. Note: the link is to an old Viennese recording; the first violinist is Willi Boskovsky, a name widely known as a conductor of Viennese waltzes. And in May, 2015 we perform Beethosven's Second (18-Across) - symphony, that is - less than heroic as it precedes Symphony no. 3, Eroica. This link is to a performance conducted by Daniel Barenboim with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra comprised of young Israeli and Arab musicians…a remarkable organization, especially in these particularly troubled times. BTW, the movie buffs among you may recognize this somewhat different level of artistry.

We have two more theme entries. Kraushaar (31-Across) is the auditorium where we play our concerts (and that's Kraus-haar, German for Curly Hair, no "sh" sound). And Bravo (67-Down) is the name of our program booklet. The oboe as "an ill wind that no one blows good" (11-Across) is a saw well-known to musicians originated by Danny Kaye's character in the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. By the way, check out Danny Kaye as a hilarious–and not untalented–conductor here.

Mahler composed Das Lied von der Erde (8-Down); this recording is with the Vienna Symphony, poor cousin to the Vienna Philharmonic, and conducted by Carlos Kleiber. Like Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain only more so is BALDER (75-Across), and Prokofiev composed an opera entitled Love for Three Oranges (24-Across). Incidentally the story is based on a Renaissance fairy tale, later also used in an 18th-century commedia del arte scene. Other musical references are In excelsis DEO (8-Across) from the Catholic Mass, a MIC (35-Across). Earl Scruggs played the banjo by plucking the strings, as a classical string player does occasionally, thus pizzicato equals STRUM (45-Across), and a tambourine can be made to jiggle with either a shake or a RUB (87-Down), by running the finger with friction across the skin of the instrument.

Unfortunately after a first draft was completed we had to do major surgery, both on the season and on the puzzle. Our fabulous concertmaster, Madeline Adkins, was deemed vital and essential to a runout concert recently added to the season by her full-time employer, the Baltimore Symphony. The ensuing concerto change had a domino effect, ending with changing the original 18-Across from MENDELSSOHN SCOTTISH. And speaking of domino effect, that threw an entire half of the puzzle into chaos, brilliantly resolved by George.

Hope to see you at a concert!

GB adds: I will be adding my two cents to all this a bit later, sometime in mid-September of 2014.

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