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Soloist 'amazing' at MSO

March 20, 2000|By KATE COLEMAN

"Fasten your seat belts," said Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze to members of the audience Sunday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre.

She thanked them for their loyalty in the "adventure" of her first season and prepared them for the interesting and emotionally challenging program she was about to conduct, the final concert of the MSO's subscription series.

The MSO performed Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Concerto, Op. 99, featuring soloist Livia Sohn. Schulze called Shostakovich a towering composer of the 20th century. He wrote in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, when the hammer - and sickle - could come down on artists considered enemies of the people because their music was too complex or dissonant, she said.

Sohn, 23, played the concerto's four movements from memory and to a rousing ovation. "It's amazing. Forty-five minutes she stood on her feet - besides being fantastic," said Williamsport resident and season-ticket holder Margaret Rohrer of the soloist.

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Marion Chalfant of Chambersburg, Pa., was moved to tears by the orchestra's foot-stomping approval of Sohn's solo performance. That doesn't happen often, she said.

"She's really, really good. I'm amazed," said Bob Stone of Hagerstown, who was attending his first MSO performance. "They're wonderful," he said of the musicians.

"I think that she was phenomenal," said Eileen Hoffman-Meier of Sohn. "The cadenza was just fantastic. We just sat in awe," added the Chambersburg resident who teaches music at J. Frank Faust Junior High School in Chambersburg. She and her husband have attended several MSO concerts over the past five or six years, but this is the first time they have been season subscribers.

Rebecca "Becky" Blank, 21, a student at North Carolina School of the Arts, played in the MSO's second violin section during the weekend concerts.

She learned at the last minute that the orchestra needed substitute players, and her spring break coincided with the orchestra's rehearsal schedule.

"I grew up listening to this orchestra," she said. She added that it was "cool" to be performing, to be "on this side instead of out there" in the audience.

Brock Twigg, 14, admitted that he had attended the orchestra's dress rehearsal last Thursday for fine arts credits at St. James School. But he wanted to see the final product. "It was neat - different," he said during intermission.

Schulze described the second half of the concert, Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D Major, as the composer's "vacation in the Alps." The music was written by Brahms during a relaxed and successful time in his life. Schulze said you can hear the laughter in the orchestra, and the joy is infectious.

The audience - and the musicians agreed. They gave Schulze a foot-stomping ovation as well.

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