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Orchestra made popular choice

January 17, 2000

Elizabeth SchulzeBy KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze said she titled Sunday afternoon's MSO performance "Orchestra's Choice."

It was an opportunity for the orchestra to play pieces they selected - Samuel Barber's Overture to "The School for Scandal" which opened the program, and Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2, Op. 30 "Romantic," which closed it.

Schulze said she is pleased to have the orchestra involved in program planning. "It's easy for me," she joked. She told the audience it would be easy for them, too. "What they like, you like," she explained.

The nearly full house seemed to like the concert, as well as hearing some of the orchestra's principal musicians featured in solo roles in the other pieces in the all-20th century program. In Frank Martin's Concerto for Seven Winds, Percussion and Strings, the spotlight was on Frances Lapp Averitt, flutist; Cecilia Papendick, oboist; Beverly Butts, clarinetist; Karen Smith Manar, bassoonist; Joseph Lovinsky on French horn; Charles Grab Jr. on trumpet; and Wayne Wells, trombonist.

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"It seemed difficult to play," said Linda Harsh of Williamsport.

Harsh especially enjoyed the Barber. "It's lovely. It's therapy," she said.

Ellen Deardorff of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., enjoyed hearing MSO players featured. "I think they're great," she said at intermission. "I think it's so good for them. It makes them feel more enthusiastic," she believes.

Deardorff received her tickets to the MSO concerts as a gift, and she is thoroughly enjoying the season's performances. She is very happy about the selection of Schulze as music director. "I think she's fantastic." Deardorff likes the way Schulze reaches out to the audience. "She makes you feel a part of it," she said. "I like the way she gives everyone credit."

The second half of Sunday's performance began with Concerto Grosso No. 2 by Ernest Bloch featuring Valerie Clemans, violinist and concertmaster; Petia Radneva-Manolova, principal second violin; Denise Setny Nathanson, cellist; and Phyllis Freeman, violist.

During Prelude, the preconcert discussion, Nathanson quoted Freeman in comparing the music to "Godiva chocolate." She said it's an honor for her to be included among the orchestra's featured performers.

"They look like sincere folks up there doing their best," said Don Collins of the orchestra. Collins, of Harmony, Md., attended his first MSO performance Sunday.

It also was the first time 14-year-old Stephanie Bibbs heard the MSO in concert. "I think it's really interesting," said the Smithsburg Middle School orchestra violinist.

New to Hagerstown this year, Anita Jones is a first-time MSO season ticket holder, but she plans to keep coming. "Outstanding," she said of Sunday's performance.

Before the concert, MSO Music Director Marc Levy had joked that the orchestra's insurance company probably would be pleased about the safety rail on the new conductor's platform, which, along with a new music stand, was donated by Smithsburg Middle and High School orchestras.

During the final movement of the Hanson symphony which Schulze had earlier described as having "beautiful, lush and almost Hollywood-like melodies," Schulze seemed to catch herself on that rail.

At the concert's end, with the musicians rhythmically stomping their approval, Schulze returned to the stage for a final bow. She grabbed the platform's sleek, black safety rail in both hands and gave it a vigorous, good-humored shake. There were smiles all around.

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