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Bland performs at Lincoln Center

April 19, 1999

Barbara BlandBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer




The setting suited her.

Beethoven's music caressed mounted canvases on display at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery in Hagerstown, as Executive Director Barbara Spicher Bland contemplated the upcoming climax of her career.

Her other career.

Bland, a professional flutist, will perform April 18 at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

"This is one of the most respected recital halls on the face of the earth," said the Hagerstown native, 45.

"It's hard not to be intimidated," she said.

Bland will perform "Psalm 137" by composer Charles Martin Loeffler with area musicians Anne Munro, Denise Setny, Wayne Wold, Noel Lester and the Hood College Chamber Singers.

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Before departing, the group will record the piece for potential distribution by Koch International Classics, the concert's sponsor, Bland said.

Though Bland is a seasoned performer, she said she has never overcome the nervousness linked to live performances. She always spends some "alone time" before a recital to mentally prepare herself, she said.

"I do a lot of soul-searching and focusing," Bland said.

The pre-performance ritual for the Lincoln Center show might deviate from her normal routine.

"This is a big first," Bland said. "I might not want to be alone," she added.

The upcoming performance crowns a musical career already brimming with accomplishments.

A former Artistic Fellow for the LaGesse Foundation, Bland has soloed at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., and performed four times at the Music at LaGesse Festival in Toulouse, France.

As the French Ambassador to Canada's house guest, she played at the Maison Francais in Ottawa.

But she said none of these experiences overshadow the joy of performing for hometown audiences.

"I have great pride in all the work I do locally," Bland said. "Audiences here mean as much to me as anywhere else I go," she said.

And she is always on the go.

A flute instructor at Hood College, Bland is a member of the Hood Chamber Players and the Appalachian Wind Quintet.

She serves as the principal flutist for the Millbrook Chamber Orchestra in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Cumberland Valley Chamber Players, Mercersburg Community Chorus and Orchestra and Shippensburg Festival Orchestra in Pennsylvania, and Garrett Lakes Arts Festival Orchestra in Oakland, Md.

The self-described "workaholic" juggles her job with the Arts Council, her musical interests and motherhood.

She said she has struck a balance in her life.

Her position with the Arts Council draws on her administrative powers, while her work as a musician feeds upon her creative energies, Bland said.

"Both careers mesh well," she said.

Bland has headed the Arts Council since 1989, and said her love affair with the flute began when she was in the third grade.

Her initial attraction was to the instrument's sound and sleek beauty, but she quickly discovered her ability. Bland said her parents, Carl and Mary Spicher, of Hagerstown, encouraged her musical interests.

The music itself inspires Bland to perform her best.

"Music has the power to contain every human emotion, and in performing, it's important that those emotions be conveyed," she said.

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