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Symphony presents family fun

November 30, 1999|By KATE COLEMAN

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present "Heroes and Heroines," its sixth annual family concert, at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.

The performance, just an hour long with no intermission, is geared especially to the attention spans of young children, but the program is designed for the whole family, said MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

There are changes from the 2005 program.

There's a new heroine, Molly Pitcher; a familiar friend, Bob the Vid Tech, in a new context; and "Peter and the Wolf" imagined in a new way with the help of the puppets of Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater, Schulze said.

And through it all will be the sounds of the orchestra.

The performance will feature the world premiere of Maryland composer Robert Lichtenberger's "Molly Pitcher," for whom a nearby section of U.S. 11 is named.

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The work, the fourth in his series of musical folk tales, is his first about a woman ? Mary Ludwig Hays, the wife of a Carlisle, Pa., Revolutionary War soldier. She earned her nickname, "Molly Pitcher," when she brought water to soldiers during the June 1778 Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.

The MSO previously premiered Lichtenberger's "John Henry" and "Paul Bunyan" as well as his "Yankee Doodle Variations."

"I really like the quality of his music," Schulze said.

The composer has heard the "very proficient" orchestra perform his work previously, and he'll be at The Maryland Theatre again Saturday.

"This collaboration works very well," he said.

Melinda and Mark Myers, Civil War and World War II re-enactors, will present tableaux of the Molly Pitcher story, and narration will be provided by Bob Heck, aka Bob the Vid Tech, the irrepressible Emmy-winning children's host on Maryland Public Television.

Heck is no stranger to the MSO, which was featured in "Music to My Ears," his 2001 MPT special. He's performed at other MSO family concerts and said he treasures his partnership with the orchestra.

"I get inspiration from Elizabeth," he said of Schulze, adding that he has great respect for her love of sharing music with young people.

Heck also will narrate the story of "Peter and the Wolf," Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 work written to introduce the instruments of the orchestra to children.

The handcrafted puppets of Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater will be on stage to present "Peter and the Wolf." The puppetry used is a modified style of bunraku (boon-rah-koo), which originated in Japan more than 400 years ago.

The company, in its 32nd season, is one of a few puppetry production companies to receive National Endowment for the Arts theater program funding, said Kevin Kuhlman, managing director. Das Puppenspiel's "Peter and the Wolf" is based on research and the composer's traditional story, he added.

Schulze called "Peter and the Wolf" the "quintessential musical story." It's educational, and the sheer beauty of the music reaches out to all ages.

And all ages will have a chance to reach out to some of the performers.

Bob the Vid Tech will greet concertgoers in the theater lobby before the performance.

After the concert, audience members can meet the puppeteers and puppets in front of the stage and may have photos taken with the Myerses in the lobby.

If you go ...



WHAT: Maryland Symphony Orchestra family concert ? "Heroes and Heroines"

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $19 for adults and $11 for children 12 and younger and can be purchased at the MSO box office, 13 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The box office at the theater will open at 3:30 p.m. Tickets also are available by calling 301-797-4000.

MORE: For more information, go to the MSO Web site at www.marylandsymphony.org.

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