Schulze seems to impress many in audition for symphony post

January 17, 1999|By KATE COLEMAN

During Prelude, the preconcert discussion of Saturday night's Maryland Symphony Orchestra performance, Elizabeth Schulze thanked the audience for coming out on a "still slippery night."

She arrived in Hagerstown on Monday and said she had come away from meetings with people - "all checking me out, of course," - with warmth, openness and pride in the community.

The weekend's performances serve as an audition for Schulze. She is the third and only female of four candidates for the job of MSO's music director.

Talking informally before the performance, which drew a nearly full house, Schulze gave the audience a hint of what to expect when the house lights went down.


She seemed to be trying to contain her hands, holding them folded together as she talked about the evening's music. But as she explained a passage or sang a phrase, her hands would join in.

Schulze had worked with some of the orchestra's musicians before, and described their collaboration as a musical journey, with hard work but also a wonderful feeling of inspiration and excellent music-making.

She described Johann Strauss Jr.'s overture to "Die Fledermaus" as being written in 19th-century Vienna, "the world of the waltz.

"It's all about what can happen if you have a little too much champagne," she said.

Soprano Rochelle Ellis joined the orchestra for "Four Last Songs." Schulze had called the music "quintessential Richard Strauss - music that can take you beyond the words to a state of transcendence."

Schulze called Jean Sibelius' "Symphony No. 2" one of the great symphonies written in the 20th century and then set out with the orchestra to prove it.

"I'm extremely impressed," said Millie Moleski, of Williamsport, during Saturday night's intermission.

Moleski has season tickets for the first time, although she has been attending MSO performances for years. It also is the first time she has experienced a performance by a solo vocalist. "She's marvelous," Moleski said of Ellis.

Joan Harcum, of Braddock Heights, Md., was attending her first MSO performance. "I'm loving every minute of it," she said. Schulze's personality attracts you, Harcum said. She described the conductor as vibrant and charismatic.

"I think she's very dynamic," Lisa Idol, a longtime MSO Guild member, said of Schulze.

"And I thought the soprano was wonderful. Her voice is so clear and fluid," she added.

Ed Orndorff, of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., a season ticket holder, has been coming to hear the MSO for a long time. He attended this season's two previous performances, saw the first two music director candidates and thought he'd have a pick by now. "I don't," he said. Schulze has a very unique style, he said. "She's exceptional."

Hagerstown resident Brendan Fitzsimmons comes to hear the MSO when he can. "She's very emotive," he said of Schulze. "She knows exactly what she wants and goes about getting it," he said of her work with the orchestra.

The MSO will perform again today at The Maryland Theatre at 3 p.m. Prelude, the preconcert discussion, will begin at 2 p.m.

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