Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

Graphic courtesy BSO

To begin today's Midday on Music program, a conversation about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the largest arts organization in the state of Maryland, and one of only 17 full-time orchestras in the United States.  That means that the players of the BSO are hired for the full year, with the vacation and health benefits typical with most full-time jobs.  Many orchestras around the country, including some in fairly large cities, hire their players for only 9 or 10 months every year .

Whether or not the BSO will remain a full-time orchestra is at the heart of a contract dispute that has been going on between the players and BSO management since last fall.  Management of the orchestra points to the fact that the BSO has lost an average of $1.6 million dollars per year for the past 10 years.  Supporters of the BSO are crossing their fingers that the General Assembly will provide supplemental funding for the BSO.  The bill currently under consideration provides an additional $1.6 million dollars for each of the next two years.  This is in addition to the funds the BSO is already scheduled to receive through its annual grant from the MD State Arts Council.  The measure has passed in the House, and it was voted out of committee in the Senate Thursday.  A vote on the Senate floor was expected Friday.

In addition to its money woes, the BSO also has a diversity problem.  In our majority black city, only one member of the orchestra is African American.  Why is that and why does it matter?

These challenges are not unique to the BSO.  Does the BSO face problems that are all that different from those facing orchestras in other cities?  What would it mean to the city, and what would it mean to you, if the BSO weren’t a 52-week orchestra?  

Joining Tom to discuss the road ahead for the BSO are Fred Bronstein, the Dean of the Peabody Institute, and Tim Smith, the former classical music critic for the Baltimore Sun.  

Today's Midday on Music conversations are being live-streamed on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch the video here

poster image from musicwithease.com

In Part I of today's Midday on Music program, we talked about some of the financial challenges the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is experiencing.   In Part II of our program today, we're going to consider the unique challenges facing Baltimore's opera community

As expensive as it is to assemble and rehearse a world class symphony orchestra, it’s even more expensive to stage a grand opera.  Not only do you need an orchestra, you need a cast of principal singers, a chorus, costumes, a set, a lighting designer, a director, multiple stage-hands and more to create that magical world where people sing on stage as naturally as the rest of us speak in real life. 

Those are just some of the reasons that it’s been hard in recent years for Grand Opera to succeed in Baltimore.  After nearly seven decades, the Baltimore Opera Company went out of business in 2009.  Its successor, the Lyric Opera of Baltimore shuttered its doors in 2017.  And now, one of the area’s most accomplished operatic artists is hoping that three times is the charm.  James Harp is the founder and artistic director of Maryland Opera.  He joins Tom in Studio A, along with local opera soprano, Colleen Daly, to talk about Maryland Opera's inaugural season.

Photo courtesy Derrick Wang

Part III of Midday on Music opens with a brief snippet from a comic opera by Derrick Wang, a work that the composer -- who is also an attorney and constitutional scholar -- says was inspired by the friendship between two iconic figures in American jurisprudence: Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016.  Wang's opera is called Scalia/Ginsburg, and it will receive its local premiere tonight at the Baltimore Concert Opera

The Baltimore Concert Opera is an opera company that breaks the mold.  It doesn't present fully staged productions with costumes and sets and a full orchestra, but over the past 10 years, its presentations of both classic operatic fare and lesser known works have attracted a strong following.   Its productions, including the ones being offering this weekend, consistently sell out.  As of September 1st, an all-female leadership team--unusual in classical music--including Artistic and General Director Julia Cooke and Music Director Rachelle Jonck, will guide Baltimore Concert Opera into the future.

Photo courtesy Monkeypaw Productions

Today, on the April edition of  Midday at the Movies, Tom spotlights director Jordan Peele's new horror-suspense flick, Us.  Joining him in the studio are movie mavens Jed Dietz, the founding director of the Maryland Film Festival and Parkway Theater, and Elissa Blount Moorhead, a Baltimore filmmaker and creative partner at TGEN Film Studios. They discuss the cinematic structures and social themes of Us, a record-breaking box-office hit that's building on the success of Peele's 2017 Oscar-winning (Best Original Screenplay) debut film, Get Out.  

They also discuss other notable new films --  including Apollo 11the powerful new documentary of NASA's historic manned mission to the moon in 1969, and The Burial of Kojo, a breakthrough feature-film directing/writing debut by Ghanaian-born hip-hop artist Blitz "the Ambassador" Bazawule, who lives and works today in Brooklyn, New York. Bazawule's film is being released and distributed by Ava DuVernay's company, Array, and is now streaming on Netflix.

Photography by Brandon W. Vernon

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our regular studio sojourn with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us every week with her reviews of the Maryland regional stage. Today, she tells us about Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's new production of  Henry IV Part II, one of the Bard's major historical plays, and the repertory companion to Henry IV, Part I, which the Company performed earlier this season and in tandem with Part II on a series of recent Saturday marathons.

In this historical sequel rich with explorations of paternal relationships, King Henry IV's rogue son, Prince Hal - a carousing and impulsive young man in the sway of a friendship with a rough-edged knight named Falstaff - faces new responsibilities as the king's health grows increasingly frail, and as the king's armies battle to put down an insurrection. Those armies eventually triumph, and Prince Hal is reconciled with his dying father. And as Hal assumes the throne as King Henry V, he lets Falstaff know their reckless friendship is history. 

Henry IV, Part II is co-directed for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company by its founder and artistic director Ian Gallanar, and by Company actor and CSC associate artistic director Gerrad Alex Taylor.  The production's cast of more than three dozen actors and musicians features resident Company members Seamus Miller as Prince Hal, Ron Heneghan as King Henry and Gregory Burgess as Falstaff.

Henry IV, Part II continues at Baltimore's Chesapeake Shakespeare Company  through April 7.

Maryland GovPics

Once again, Baltimore is rocked by a scandal at the highest level of government. Mayor Catherine Pugh has begun an indefinite leave of absence, citing the need to recover from pneumonia, amid calls for her to resign permanently from officials in Baltimore and in Annapolis. 

New revelations about business dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland and the Associated Black Charities have raised new questions about Pugh's conflicts of interest. Governor Larry Hogan has asked the State Prosecutor to launch a formal investigation.

Tom is joined by three guests to help unpack the future of Baltimore: City Councilman Leon Pinkett, former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah and Kevin Rector of The Baltimore Sun. 

By Yianni Mathioudakis/Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, an article appeared in the New York Times Magazine called “The Tragedy of Baltimore: How an American City Falls Apart.” It was written by longtime Baltimore resident and award winning journalist Alec MacGillis. The article painted a grim picture of our city and what we’ve been through in the years since the violence and uprising that followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody four years ago. Tom spoke with Alec MacGillis about the piece recently.  Today, we continue the conversation about the article. Listeners, what do you think? Did the Times get it right? What about what Baltimore gets right

Al Hutchinson is president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. He is responsible for the city’s convention and tourism industry.

Kirby Fowler is President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, which works with businesses, residents, and community groups to advance the city’s quality of life and attract new investment.

Bishop Douglas Miles was a founding member of BUILD, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. He’s been an activist in the community for more than 50 years.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page. Click here to see the video.

Photo Courtesy AP/ Manuel Balce Ceneta

On today's News Wrap, President Trump says he’s exonerated, and off the hook.  Democrats in Congress don’t quite agree.  Investigations on numerous fronts continue. 

The President has also moved to completely dismantle Obama Care by joining a legal action that would eliminate the law, and with it, some of its most popular provisions, like coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has wished the President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi good luck in finding a suitable replacement for the ACA. 

Joshua Gerstein of Politico and Darlene Superville of the Associated Press join us to take a look behind the headlines.

Graphic courtesy Ensemble Galilei

The music that opens this segment is a 16th century song called The Flowers of the Forest. It was written in memory of the thousands of Scottish soldiers who died in battle in 1513.  To this day, this song is played when English or Canadian soldiers are killed in places like Afghanistan.  This recording is the title cut on the latest CD from Ensemble Galilei, an early-music chamber group.

It is also the opening and closing anthem in a program called Between War and Here, a show that includes narration and music inspired by veterans and their experiences in combat.  It’s a unique collaboration between Ensemble Galilei and veteran war correspondents Anne Garrels and Neal Conan, both formerly with NPR. 

Anne Garrels had hoped to join us this afternoon, but she is feeling a bit under the weather.  But we're delighted that Neal Conan is with us here in Studio A.  He’s a former host of All Things Considered and NPR’s Talk of the Nation.  These days, he produces and hosts a podcast for public radio called Truth, Politics and Power… 

Also joining us is Carolyn Surrick, a viola da gamba player who founded Ensemble Galilei twenty-five years ago, and who is the creative force behind Between War and Here.  The show takes its name from the title of a book she published in 2011: a collection of poems inspired by her experiences during seven years of playing concerts for wounded veterans at Washington's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

photo courtesy Alan Squire Publishing

Tom's guest today is the new Poet Laureate of Maryland, Grace Cavalieri.

It would be selling her talents short if we only called her a “poet.”  She has indeed published more than 20 books of poetry.    But she has also written more two dozen plays, some of which have premiered here in Baltimore, and she’s penned text and lyrics for opera, TV and film productions as well. 

Grace Cavalieri is also well-known as the host of The Poet and the Poem, a radio interview show she has hosted for 42 years. The show began on Pacifica station WPFW in Washington in 1977 and evolved into a podcast that she produces now with the Library of Congress.  Her interviews with poets are also broadcast around the country by more than 40 member radio stations in the Pacifica Network.

Grace Cavalieri is the founder of several small-press publishing and printing houses.  She teaches and lectures at colleges and universities across the country, and for 25 years, she was the visiting writer at St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland.

Last November, she was appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to be the 10th Poet Laureate of Maryland.   She joins Tom today in Studio A, and addresses our listeners' questions and comments.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here.

Photo by Rob Clatterbuck

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck join us with another of her weekly reviews of the Maryland regional stage.  This week, she spotlights Small House, No Secrets, the new musical at Fells Point Corner Theatre, produced as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Small House, No Secrets is a collaboration between the celebrated singer-songwriter SONiA Rutstein (aka SONiA disappear fear) (music and lyrics) and playwright Jody Nusholtz (book and lyrics), who is also a writer and communications arts professor at Carroll Community College. 

An exploration of the complexities of sexual identity, friendship, family bonds and faith, the musical is directed at Fells Point Corner Theatre by Miriam Bazensky, and features Annette Mooney Wasno in the lead role as Liz.

Small House No Secrets continues at the Fells Point Corner Theatre through March 31.

AP Images

Today, a conversation about gerrymandering and the future of voting districts. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two gerrymandering cases  – one from Maryland, the other from North Carolina.

Here in Maryland, a group of Republican voters contend that the state’s 6th Congressional District was unfairly redrawn in 2011 to favor Democrats. Gerrymandering, or the practice of manipulating voting district boundaries to give political advantage to one party, has a long tradition in America. It enjoys wide bi-partisan support among politicians who rely on it for job security, but polls show that voters strongly disapprove of the practice.  

Tom Wolf, Counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, and Andy GreenThe Baltimore Sun's Editorial Page Editor, join us to take a closer look. 


The Kirwan Commission on education reform in Maryland has recommended a re-ordering of our educational priorities. One of the central tenets of the Commission’s approach is to expand early pre-school for three and four year olds.

The data on pre-k might surprise you. A Brookings Institution study argues that there is little correlation between pre-k and academic achievement in elementary school. But scholars have determined that kids in pre-school are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. And a report by MD Family Network calculates the loss to businesses at nearly two and half billion dollars for parents with kids under the age of five, for time lost at work due to inadequate child care.

Is universal pre-k worth the investment? How much does it really prepare kids for success down the line?  And if the state doesn’t make pre-k programs affordable and accessible to parents, does that decision come with an economic cost? 

Today, a panel of early education experts joins Tom for a closer look at the costs and benefits of pre-k.

Associated Press Photo by Brian Whitte

Last week, amid news reports of self-dealing by members of the board of directors of The University of Maryland Medical System (known as UMMS), the CEO of the system, Robert Chrencik, was placed on a leave of absence while the board hired an outside firm to conduct an audit of the System’s contracting practices and its conflicts-of-interest policies.  Several board members have resigned, including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who had served on the UMMS board for more than 18 years.  Other board members who currently have business relationships with the System have also been asked to take a leave of absence from the board.  

When Luke Broadwater of the Sun wrote about the allegations that Mayor Pugh and others were profiting from their seats on the board of the UMMS, reaction in Annapolis was swift, and unequivocal.  Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and Speaker of the House Mike Busch (himself a member of the UMMS board), all condemned the practice of awarding contracts to businesses that were connected to board members.  A bill proposed by Speaker Busch is being fast-tracked through the House, and a bill introduced on the Senate side is also making its way through the legislative process .  Both bills aim to address conflicts of interest and financial disclosures by board members. 

Erica Chambers Photography

Now, time for some Old Time Music...that's the name for a family of traditional Appalachian folk music styles that will be featured at a brand new festival this weekend.  The father-and-son musical duo, Ken and Brad Kolodner, have organized the first-ever Baltimore Old Time Music Festival at the Creative Alliance in East Baltimore.  Starting Friday (3.22.19) and running through Saturday night, there will be performances by dozens of musicians from near and far, a variety of workshops and even a square dance to celebrate the roots and old-time music scene here in Baltimore. 

In addition to the Kolodners, musical acts include the Corn Potato String Band, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, and the two musical guests who join us now in Studio A. 

Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs comprise the duo called The Local Honeys.  They’re from Kentucky, and they specialize in the unique string and vocal harmonies of Appalachian folk music, playing both traditional and original songs.  Today in Studio A, the duo play three originals: "The Cigarette Trees," a song Linda Jean wrote about Kentucky's strip mining operations; "The Beattyville Bomber," a song by Montana about some of the folks in her hometown; and a folk tune they learned from songwriter Shirley Collins called "Space Girl."

We livestreamed The LocalHoney's performance today on WYPR's Facebook page. Watch it here.


On today's News Wrap: the Mayor of Baltimore seems to think that witch hunts aren’t limited to the Trump administration.  As developments in the ever-evolving saga of the University of Maryland Medical System continue to unfurl, Mayor Catherine Pugh is in the eye of the storm, amid allegations of conflict of interest and self-dealing by her, and nearly a third of the UMMS board. Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater joins me with the latest in this developing story.

Plus, Governor Hogan slams Democrats as spendthrifts and former Baltimore mayors make the case to keep the Preakness at Pimlico.

WYPR's Rachel Baye and the Baltimore Sun's  Pamela Wood join us with updates on the Maryland General Assembly, as lawmakers in Annapolis enter the homestretch of the 2019 legislative session. 

Photo Courtesy AP/ Patrick Semansky

In last Sunday’s New York Time’s Magazine, Pro Publica reporter Alec MacGillis chronicles the strained relations between the police and impoverished communities since the 2015 uprising.  The story paints a grim picture of our hometown.  The cover is emblazoned with a title that is depressing and sobering:  How an American City Falls Apart:  The Tragedy of Baltimore

Is our city falling apart?  Did the 4 million plus subscribers to the Times get an accurate picture of where we are today, and where we’ve been in the past? 

Alec MacGillis covers politics and government for Pro Publica.  He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize when he was working at the Baltimore Sun. In 2016, he won the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.  In addition to the New York Times, his work has been featured in the New Yorker, the Atlantic and several other national publications.  

Teresa Castracane photography

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio for another of her weekly reviews of the regional stage. Today, she spotlights Dinner with Friends, the 1999 Off-Broadway hit that won playwright Donald Margulies the 2000 Pultizer Prize for Drama.  A new production of this popular play is now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

Directed by Everyman's Founding Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi, Dinner with Friends centers on married food writers Gabe (played by M. Scott McLean) and Karen (Beth Hylton), and their frequent dinner guests, long-time friends Beth (Megan Anderson) and her husband Tom (Danny Gavigan).  When Beth announces that her husband wants a divorce after 12 years of marriage, both couples are forced to confront profound questions about loyalty, commitment and personal freedom. 

Dinner with Friends, an enduring drama about marriage and friendship, continues at Everyman Theatre until Sunday, April 7th.  

Photo courtesy Department of Housing and Community Development

Michael Braverman, the Commissioner of the Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development, joins Tom today.

Any conversation about housing in our city is a conversation about two Baltimores. There’s the Baltimore of downtown and the Inner Harbor, with its strong history of public and private investment, and the stable, majority-white neighborhoods that stretch in a narrow line north from there.

And then there’s what Morgan State University professor Lawrence Brown has dubbed Baltimore’s “black butterfly,” the city’s majority black neighborhoods that stretch out like two large wings on either side. Many of those neighborhoods continue to struggle with poverty, unemployment and a lack of affordable housing on the one hand, and a huge number of vacant buildings on the other.

Late last month, Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled a new Framework for Community Development: the start of what she calls "a new era of neighborhood investment." Commissioner Braverman is tasked with executing these plans. He has worked with the city for 30 years, in both the Housing Department and the State’s Attorney’s office. 

This conversation was livestreamed on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to see the video.

Michael S. Harrison

Last week, Michael Harrison became the fourth Baltimore City Police Commissioner to lead the troubled BPD in the past 14 months.

Commissioner Harrison has spent the past month introducing himself to the people of Baltimore at community meetings. He comes to the BPD after nearly 30 years with the New Orleans Police Department, which he joined as a new recruit in 1991

Today, Commissioner Harrison joins us to discuss how he intends to ameliorate the fractured relationship between the police and communities of color, and stem the tide of violence in our city. 


Today, another in our occasional series, Midday on Higher Education. From time to time, Tom sits down with the presidents of Maryland colleges and universities to talk about the challenges that each of their institutions face, and how those institutions are connected to the fabric of the communities in which they are located. 

Today, Tom’s guest is Dr. Jay Perman, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr. Perman is a pediatric gastroenterologist. He was chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UMB’s School of Medicine for five years, before moving to Kentucky, where he was dean and vice president for clinical affairs at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He returned to Baltimore in 2010 to become UMB’s sixth president.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to see the video. 

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An iconoclastic professor of literature at Oxford University named John Carey wrote a book a few years back called What Good Are the Arts?  In it he examines, among other things, why people make a distinction between the so-called fine arts, and all the other kinds of arts.  Are a pink flamingo on a lawn in Hampden and a Renaissance statue in the sculpture court of the Walters Art Museum fundamentally different, if both give pleasure to the person who encounters them?  Is the intrinsic value of art premised in its being beautiful?  And why do any of us recognize anything as being "beautiful" -- or not?

On today's edition of Midday on the Arts, we begin with a conversation about the nature of art and beauty, and what shapes our responses to art that we find appealing, and art that leaves us flat, or even infuriated. 

Tom's guests are a visual artist, a brain scientist who studies what shapes our aesthetic experiences and an art historian who heads a major art museum.

Photo courtesy American University

Four seasons ago, Baltimore's Everyman Theater launched an initiative called the “Salon Series: Women's Voices," a program that explores the work of women playwrights in informal staged readings, directed by the women members of the Everyman Resident Acting Company.  On Monday night, March 18, the new Salon Series season begins with "What's Next?" -- readings of the work of Washington-DC based playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings, who is also a professor of theater at American University.  Jennings is the author, recently, of two semi-autobiographical plays, Queens Girl in the World and Queens Girl in Africa, which will close out the Everyman season later this spring.  The one-woman performances will be directed by Paige Hernandez, and feature first Dawn Ursula and then Erika Rose, in the plays' solo roles.  The Everyman has commissioned a third play to round out the trilogy, called Queens Girl:  Black in the Green Mountains.  That play will be performed at Everyman next season, but it’s one of the works-in-progress that will be part of the staged reading at Everyman on Monday night, with director Hernandez, and actors Ursula and Rose joining playwright Jennings in the Everyman Rehearsal Hall.  Today, Caleen Sinnette Jennings joins Tom on the line from Washington to discuss the genesis of the Queens Girl plays, and the playwrighting craft she'll be spotlighting at Monday's Salon event.

photo courtesy Center Stage

Last August, Baltimore Center Stage announced the appointment of Stephanie Ybarra as its new Artistic Director.  She succeeds Kwame Kwei Armah, who left to become the Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theater in London. 

Stephanie Ybarra comes to Baltimore after six years as the  Director of Special Artistic Projects at the Public Theatre in New York City, where she oversaw its popular Public Forum programs and led the theater’s Mobile Unit on a first-of-its-kind national tour. She is an alum of the Women’s Project Theater, where she’s served for the past few years as the Producer’s Lab Liaison.  She is also the Curator and Casting Director of the Cruzando Fronteras, or Crossing Borders Festival at the Two River Theater in New Jersey.  That festival features the work of Latinx theater artists. 

Stephanie Ybarra is, in fact, the first Latinx theater artist to lead one of America’s major theaters.  Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday announced the list of plays it will present during its upcoming 2019-2020 season.  Our theater critic, J Wynn Rousuckjoins Tom in Studio A with Stephanie Ybarra to talk about the new season lineup, and about the artistic vision she's bringing to her new role at Baltimore Center Stage.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page. You can watch the video here.

Photo by Tieesha Stylz Jones

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of a regional theater production.  Today, she spotlights the new production of  Flyin' West now running at Arena Players in Baltimore, the oldest continuously operating African-American community theater in the United States.

Flyin’ West is a historical drama by playwright Pearl Cleage that premiered in Atlanta in 1992 and has been widely produced ever since.  It's set in Nicodemus, Kansas in 1898, and tells a story from a little-known chapter in African American history.  In the decades following the Civil War, many former slaves and their descendants took advantage of the federal Homestead Act, which opened up vast tracts of Western lands for people willing to settle in undeveloped and often difficult regions of the country.  In the play, we meet a small group of African-American women who show great strength as they confront their harsh new environment, threats of domestic violence, and the enduring challenge of racism. 

Directed at Arena Players by Rosiland Cauthen, Flyin' West features performances by Isaiah Evans, Keyonna LeShawn Hill, Yakima Rich, Paul Jon West, Lisa Wooten and Rosey Young.

Flyin' West continues at Arena Players through Sunday, March 24. Ticket info here.

Credit Johns Hopkins University

Last Thursday, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that would allow terminally ill patients with a prognosis of less than six months to live to obtain prescription drugs that they could choose to take to end their own lives. A similar bill is moving through the state Senate. This is the fourth year that such a bill has been proposed in the Maryland General Assembly.   

On today's installment of Midday on Ethics, Tom speaks with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bio Ethics; and Dr. Mark Komrad, a psychiatrist on the faculties of Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and Tulane and Ethicist-in-Residence for the Sheppard-Pratt Health Systems, about the ethical issues of so-called “aid in dying laws” for patients, doctors and society.  

AP Images

Today, we’re discussing the crisis of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Last month, 190 bishops and 10 women of religious orders convened at the Vatican for a summit to address the international problem of predatory priests and others in the hierarchy of the church.  However, many survivors don't think that the summit went far enough. 

Joining Tom today to discuss the outcome of  the Rome conference are Mary Dispenza, a former nun, a survivor of sexual abuse and the Northwest Director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests;  Joshua McElwee, a Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter;  and Father Michael Garanzini ,a Jesuit Priest, the Chancellor of Loyola University in Chicago, and a board member of the Leadership Roundtable, a Catholic organization of clergy and laity charged with recommending best practices and methods of accountability in the church. 

Photo courtesy University of Maryland

Today, it's Midday on Education. Tom's guest, Dr. William "Brit" Kirwan, is the chair of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission. Dr. Kirwan was formerly president of the University of Maryland, where he served on the faculty for 34 years. He was also Chancellor of the University System of Maryland from 2002-2015.

The Kirwan Commission was created three years ago by the Maryland governor and the General Assembly to improve the state’s public education system and to recommend a new funding formula for our public schools. 

The commission recently released an Interim Report.  It includes a series of recommendations about how the state should re-order its educational priorities and improve accountability.  It does not yet tackle the thorny issue of a funding formula: how the state and local jurisdictions will divide the cost.  Whatever the formula ends up being, it will have to shoulder a hefty price tag, estimated at nearly $4 billion dollars over the next ten years. 

The General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would provide a billion dollars over the next two years, to begin implementing the commission’s recommendations.  Last Friday, the Maryland House revised Gov. Hogan's budget proposal to include about $320 million more for public education, a first step.

Dr. Kirwan joins us to discuss the proposals contained in the interim report, and he addresses listener  comments and questions.

You can view the video of today's live-streamed conversation on the WYPR Facebook Page.

Dr. Kirwan will be speaking this Wednesday, March 13 at 7:00pm at a free event at the Cathedral of the Incarnation at 4 East University Parkway in Baltimore.  

Alex Klein for The Johns Hopkins News-Letter

Yesterday, the Baltimore City Senate Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly voted to approve legislation that will allow Johns Hopkins University to establish its own private police force. The City House Delegation was scheduled to vote this morning, but it appears they have postponed that vote. 

If this legislation is ultimately approved, Johns Hopkins will be the first private university in Baltimore to have its own police force. Hopkins officials say that a campus police force would help them address concerns about crime near their campuses, respond to active shooters and protect students, teachers and staff more effectively. But opponents are concerned that a Hopkins police force would not be accountable to the public and are worried that police would engage in racial profiling.

What would a Hopkins police force mean for Baltimore? Would it deepen a divide between the University and the community, or will it bring Hopkins closer to its neighbors in Charles Village, Mt. Vernon and East Baltimore?

photo courtesy Baltimore Classical Guitar Society

Today, Live in Studio A, the internationally celebrated guitarist Grigory "Grisha" Goryachev  joins us to perform two selections from his upcoming Baltimore Classical Guitar Society concert at UMBC.  

A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, the 41 year-old Goryachev is renowned for his extraordinary musical sensitivity and technical virtuosity in both classical and flamenco styles.  He is one of a small number of guitarists in the world who is reviving the tradition of solo flamenco guitar in a concert setting -- an approach practiced by such legendary flamenco masters as Ramón Montoya and Sabicas.

Today on Midday, Grisha plays two songs:  Zapateado en Re by Sabicas, and the classic Malaguena by Ernesto Lecuona, in an arrangement by Paco de Lucia.

Grisha Goryachev will perform at the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society concert on Saturday, March 9, from 8-10pm, at the Linehan Concert Hall at UMBC in Catonsville.   For details and ticket info, click here.

This program is available as a Facebook Livestream on WYPR's Facebook Page.