It's fun. It's laid back. It's Off the Cuff.

The story meets the score in our Centennial Off the Cuff series. Explore the backstory on classical music's greatest works and discover their secrets, scandals and twists. This unique series engages you in an entertaining and informative format, including a thrilling performance of the music.

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Markus StenzDon Giovanni

Fri, Oct 2, 8:15 pm: Strathmore
Sat, Oct 3, 7 pm: Meyerhoff

Markus Stenz
, conductor
Morgan Smith, Don Giovanni
Angela Meade, Donna Anna
Jennifer Black, Donna Elvira

Mozart: Scenes from Don Giovanni

Everyone loves an anti-hero, and Mozart’s titular libertine Don Giovanni — or Don Juan — seduces and preys upon women before ultimately receiving his karmic undoing. Don Giovanni is Mozart’s most Romantic opera which deals in psychological and supernatural drama balanced with dark humor that would go on to inspire 19th-century composers and delight audiences long after.

Jonathan CarneyA Season of Vivaldi

Fri, Nov 6, 8:15 pm: Strathmore
Sat, Nov 7, 7 pm: Meyerhoff

Marin Alsop
, conductor
Jonathan Carney, violin

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

How do notes on a page communicate an idea? Why do we hear a thunderstorm, winter’s chill or a bird song when we listen to an orchestra play? Vivaldi set out to show Baroque critics that ”program music” had its place among serious compositions. Those ideas he captures in music have made The Four Seasons a concert hall staple and a popular cultural touchstone.

Marin AlsopRachmaninoff Symphony No. 3

Fri, Jan 8, 8:15 pm: Strathmore
Sat, Jan 9, 7 pm: Meyerhoff

Marin Alsop
, conductor

Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3

Described as a “six-and-a-half-foot scowl” by his contemporary Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff was not what most would call a happy man. Part of that legendary sour outlook came from a life in exile after he and his family left Bolshevik Russia. Still, a connection to his homeland runs through much of his music, and his third symphony is filled with that Russian heritage, love and longing.

Marin AlsopEnigma Variations

Fri, Feb 26, 8:15 pm: Strathmore
Sat, Feb 27, 7 pm: Meyerhoff

Marin Alsop
, conductor

Elgar: Enigma Variations

Inside Elgar’s Enigma Variations is a riddle that remains unsolved. The enigma theme that Elgar takes through many inventive and striking variations that are each dedicated to someone in his life, is actually a companion melody written to a well-known tune.  Can you solve the mystery of Elgar’s riddle? Probably not, but no answer is needed to enjoy Elgar’s masterwork.

John AdamsBeethoven's Emperor

Fri, May 13, 8:15 pm: Strathmore
Sat, May 14, 7 pm: Meyerhoff

John Adams
, conductor
Jeremy Dink, piano

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"

Post-minimalist composer John Adams directs renowned and award-winning pianist Jeremy Denk in Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto. Written while Beethoven was riding out the French siege of Vienna in the cellar of a friend, the composer’s fifth piano concerto is an affirmation of heroic spirit in the midst of what Beethoven called “Nothing but drums, cannons, human misery of every sort!”