By KATE COLEMAN
The annual Maryland Symphony Orchestra performances at Antietam National Battlefield have become a local holiday tradition. Thousands of people - performers as well as concertgoers - have memories of the music, the fireworks and the huge American flag flying over hallowed ground during the past 11 years.
Deborah Stotlemyer, MSO's assistant principal second violin, remembers every Salute to Independence concert at Antietam. Some stand out.
"I remember being pregnant," she said of the first battlefield performance in 1986. It was very hot, and the cannons, fired during Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," were very loud. Her 4-year-old daughter, Amber, in the audience with her father, held her ears and cried. Her second daughter, who would be born a few weeks later, also reacted. "There was a lot of kicking," Stotlemyer said.
Sandy Wantz will be at Antietam National Battlefield Saturday, July 5, her first time as "just" an audience member. Wantz, MSO's managing director from 1985 to 1996, was there from the beginning, when the concert was planned to mark the symphony's fifth year in 1986. Organizers thought it would be a one-time event. National Park Service estimated that about 5,000 people were expected. Between 10,000 and 15,000 showed up, and Wantz said organizers were credited with creating the single worst traffic jam in the history of Washington County.