Showing his characteristic sense of humor, Tuckwell explained the laughter by saying, "Where you have West Virginia jokes, we have viola jokes."
One of the evening's highlights was an overture composed and directed by Joseph Jay McIntyre, the orchestra's principal timpanist.
McIntyre, who has been with the orchestra since its beginning in 1982, thanked Tuckwell for sharing his musical knowledge those years.
"Sixteen years ago, you gave birth to this orchestra. Mr. Tuckwell, this will always be your orchestra. Without Barry Tuckwell, there would be no Maryland Symphony Orchestra ... yesterday, today or tomorrow," he said.
McIntyre's "Salute!" was meant to be a gift of music for Tuckwell. The orchestra practiced after hours, away from the ears of Tuckwell.
Tuckwell heard the piece for the first time on Saturday.
"That's a very difficult act to follow," he said, thanking McIntyre and the orchestra.
There was little evidence of the underlying tensions between Tuckwell and the orchestra's board of directors that led to his stepping down.
Board Chairman J. Emmet Burke called it a memorable evening.
"Barry has really contributed so much," he said.
Concert-goers said they are sad to see Tuckwell leaving.
"His talks are just wonderful. His personality comes across and certainly his knowledge. I think we're going to miss him," said Dorothy McEvoy of Hagerstown.
But many felt the strong tradition he started will continue.
"Many people might feel a little antsy about the man that started it leaving. We'll all get used to whoever comes," said Susan Reed, 36, of Hagerstown.
The maestro's wife, Sue Tuckwell, said she is also sad.
"It shouldn't be like this. It should be a celebration," she said.
Tuckwell's final concert is today at 3 p.m. There are only a few standing-room-only tickets left, said Marc Levy, the orchestra's managing director.
The concerts feature Dvorak's "Symphony No. 9 - From the New World," George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."
Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II proclaimed today Barry Tuckwell Day.