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Symphony's Own takes center stage at Maryland Theatre

January 21, 2002

Symphony's Own takes center stage at Maryland Theatre



By KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

Mimicking the title of the opening number, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra celebrated the talents of its own performers Sunday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre.

The Symphony's Own, an annual MasterWorks series performance that takes symphony members out from the shadows of guest soloists, was a big hit with the full theater, making up for a Saturday night that was sparse because of the wintry weather.

"I think it's lovely, beautiful," said Charles Lamont of Hagerstown about the concert. "Especially the cellos. It's very peaceful, this type of music."

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Several MSO musicians were given the opportunity to shine as soloists, led by cellist Denise Setny Nathanson in the show-closing "Don Quixote" by Richard Strauss. Phyllis Freeman, principal violist, and Leonid Sushansky, concertmaster and violinist, also took featured roles in the piece.

The horn section, comprised of principal horn Joseph Lovinsky, Amy Roberts, Barbara Showalter and James Vaughn, took center stage for Robert Schumann's "Concertstuck." Opening the concert was "Celebration," a Richard Rodney Bennett composition commissioned to honor the MSO's 10th anniversary in 1992. This year, the symphony is celebrating its 20th season.

"It's always a treat to hear 'Celebration,'" MSO Guild member Darlene Stojack said. "It's very joyful, it's very upbeat."

In her pre-concert discussion, MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze discussed the afternoon's program, bringing Nathanson out to illustrate points about "Don Quixote."

Strauss, she said, was able to craft a piece of music in which various instruments took on the persona of characters in the tale of Don Quixote.

"It's just remarkable," she said. "It really does tell the story."

Prior to playing "Don Quixote," the MSO Youth Guild, which introduces young people to the symphony, presented the MSO with a cello performance podium that Nathanson used during the piece.

Stojak's fellow guild member, JoAnn Bousum, said she enjoys seeing the MSO feature its own members.

"I think it's most outstanding," Bousum said. "I think (Schulze) brings each portion of the orchestra out so we can appreciate the talent of the musicians."

Deep Creek Lake, Md., resident Larry Perez has journeyed for symphony performances for 15 years. Impressed by Schulze's willingness to schedule different programs, he enjoyed seeing the horn section, normally in the background, given a chance to step out.

"Playing at that range, they don't even sound like horns. You just never hear horns at that range," he said. "It's encouraging to see the quality of the musicians. It's a very difficult piece."

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