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Smithsburg teen to direct 'Maryland, My Maryland'

July 01, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

When Maryland Symphony Orchestra intern Jess Price learned she had the chance to conduct during the July 4 concert at Antietam National Battlefield, she thought the MSO staff members were kidding.

"It's a good-natured staff, and they kept ragging me. At first I wasn't sure if they were serious," Jess says.

They were.

On Saturday, the 17-year-old Smithsburg High School graduate will lead the orchestra in the number "Maryland, My Maryland."

One of the items at the MSO Guild's auction in November was the opportunity to direct the MSO. The couple submitting an anonymous bid decided to allow a student to direct, says Bethany Latham-Tischer, MSO marketing director.

Since November, Jess has participated in Washington County Community Internship Program, volunteering three hours a week with the MSO to learn the administrative side of music.

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Jess, the daughter of Evan and Allyn Price of Smithsburg, says conducting the MSO will be an exciting opportunity.

"I've performed with the symphony before, and it's a fantastic experience," she says.

She played cello at the MSO holiday concert in 1996 after an anonymous donor bid for four seats in the orchestra and donated them to Jess and three other students.

Jess, who also plays saxophone and piano, plans to teach cello at the college level. She will attend University of Maryland-College Park this fall, and she plans to audition for the orchestra and jazz band during the first week of class.

This summer, she's working as a hostess at Bob Evans Restaurant in Hagerstown, spending time with friends and concentrating on her music.

She performed "Maryland, My Maryland" with her high school jazz band earlier this year. She wants to memorize the score, so that even if she loses her place on the page she'll be OK.

Jess has conducted her high school jazz band but never has led a concert of this magnitude. She says she's used to crowds, and she sees it as an opportunity to perform for more people.

"I'll be very lucky to be onstage with so many excellent musicians, with an enthusiastic crowd," she says.

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