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MSO wins raves from audience

March 18, 2002|KEVIN CLAPP

While rain cascaded outside, symphonic sounds new and old reigned supreme Sunday afternoon inside The Maryland Theatre.

In its final MasterWorks series performance of the season, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra presented Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with chorus, plus the premier of Nocturne, a work composed by William Averitt and commissioned by the orchestra.

Both works were accompanied by vocalists: soprano Tony Arnold on Nocturne; mezzo-soprano Judith Norton, soprano Detra Battle-Sparrow, tenor Scott Williamson, bass Tianxu Zhou and a 57-member chorus comprised of local performers.

"Excellent show. Excellent symphony," said Hagerstown resident Barbara Blair. "I've seen (the symphony with chorus) before when they do the Salute to Independence and it's fantastic."

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Braddock Heights, Md., resident Joan Harcum said she enjoyed the themes in Nocturne, not to mention the work of soloist Arnold throughout the seven-movement piece.

As the symphony celebrates its 20th anniversary this season, MSO President Marjorie Hobbs took a few moments prior to the performance to recognize the efforts of the symphony, including three musicians who have been with the orchestra since the beginning: Charles Grab, trumpet; Joe McIntyre, timpani; and Scott Cassada, bassoon.

Then it was on with the show, first with Nocturne, then with Beethoven's Ninth, after which the ensemble on stage was saluted with a long standing ovation.

Carlisle, Pa., resident Janet Holland made the trip to Hagerstown for Sunday's performance and was not disappointed.

"It was outstanding. I think the whole program was beautiful," she said. "It's really nice, it's just something sort of special. It was wonderful today, just wonderful."

During Prelude, Elizabeth Schulze's pre-concert discussion, the MSO music director was joined by Averitt to discuss the creation of his work.

"My piece tries, as much as possible, to be on a more intimate level" than the Beethoven work, Averitt told the pre-concert crowd. "It's a different type of music, but music made possible I think by what Beethoven did."

Though this weekend's performances conclude the MasterWorks season, the MSO has two more shows before drawing its year to a close. On Saturday, April 27, the second annual MSO family concert will present the Magic Circle Mime Company for "The Mozart Experience."

The season will conclude Saturday, June 22, at Hagerstown Community College's Alumni Amphitheater when the orchestra will present A Night in Vienna, featuring music written by the Strauss family.

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