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Trombonist plays center stage

November 18, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - In welcoming her Sunday afternoon audience to the second program in the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's MasterWorks series, Music Director Elizabeth Schulze made a gentle appeal for financial support at the kickoff of the MSO's annual fund drive. Pledges or donations could be made at "halftime," she said.

She laughed that she had watched football the day before. "All my teams won," she said.

Her winning streak continued as the orchestra began a challenging program, opening with Zoltn Kodly's Galnta Dances.

"There are so many moods to this piece," Schulze said during Prelude, the pre-concert discussion. She called the 20th-century composer "a real musical hero," who preserved the music of the Gypsies, "an entire tradition of performance." Schulze said.

Meg Biser, a senior at Smithsburg High School who plays cello in the school's orchestra, is a member of MSO's Youth Guild and comes to most of the orchestra's performances.

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She said she really liked the Galnta Dances. It was sort of bohemian - like dancing around the fire at midnight, she laughed. "And very fast," she added.

Biser's friend Sarah Hurd, a Smithsburg High School junior who plays oboe in the school's band, enjoyed Wayne Wells' solo on the concert's second piece, Henri Tomasi's Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra. "The trombone is really amazing. The trombonist is just wonderful," she said.

During Prelude, Schulze said she was happy to have Wells, the MSO's principal trombonist since 1997, at the front of the stage rather than holding up the back.

Wells talked about the "schizoid" personality of the trombone that "makes the instrument a lot of fun." The trombone often is featured playing music of "Judgment Day" or - on the other hand - music to represent the Virgin Mary. He mentioned - and demonstrated for those attending the pre-concert discussion - that the opening theme of Tomasi's concerto is just one note from the main theme of Tommy Dorsey's "Getting Sentimental Over You."

"It was very different, but I enjoyed it," said Alice Holtzinger of the Tomasi concerto. "I liked it," she said.

She accompanied her friend, Davis Baughman, also a resident of Quincy Village near Waynesboro, Pa. He has been a MSO season-ticket holder for years - almost since the orchestra's inception.

"Great," he said of the first half of Sunday's performance. "We love the conductor."

Hagerstown residents Paul and Arleen Shuster have held MSO season tickets for three or four years. They started out attending Saturday evening performances, but switched to Sunday afternoons - a better time for their sons.

"I don't remember the last time I heard a piece of music written for a trombone," Paul Shuster said. "It was a little dissonant, different," he said of the Tomasi piece.

Ben Shuster, 9, plays piano but explained the workings of the trombone to his mom - something he picked up during one of the MSO's Symphony Saturday programs for kids that he attended. He really likes the concerts and couldn't name a favorite part. "I just like the whole symphony," he said.

Brittany Smith, 14, a student at Scotland (Pa.) School for Veterans Children, said she was attending her first symphony performance. "I like it," she said during intermission.

Symphony No. 3, in F Major, Op. 90, by Johannes Brahms had not been previously performed by the MSO, Schulze said. She described the afternoon's closing piece as the most accessible and most difficult of the composer's symphonies.

At the end of the concert, as Brittany walked toward the exit of The Maryland Theatre, she added another comment.

"It was great," she said.

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