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MSO, soloist bring season to crowd-pleasing finale

March 17, 2003|by KEVIN CLAPP

As members of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra embarked on their first selection of Sunday afternoon, the guest of honor sat nearly motionless at the piano, awaiting her turn.

When it came, in the opening movement of Frdric Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, soloist Esther Budiardjo attacked her instrument with a graceful intensity. Her fingers glided across ebony and ivory keys while members of the MSO complemented her every move.

"The first and third movements were very, very good," said symphony patron George Tompkins of Boonsboro during intermission. "The third movement is a crowd-pleaser. You have a good piano player, you can't go wrong."


Judging by the standing ovation at the conclusion of Chopin's concerto, Budiardjo was a smart choice to join the Maryland Symphony Orchestra during MasterWorks V, its final performance of the 2003-04 season.

Sunday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown, the orchestra, led by Music Director Elizabeth Schulze, also performed Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. The selection, which Tompkins said is a favorite of his, also prompted an ovation.

The symphony returned to Sunday afternoons after an involuntary break in February, when heavy snow prompted cancellation of the second MasterWorks IV performance. Making mention of Mother Nature, Schulze said it was good to be back to perform.

During Schulze's Prelude preconcert lecture, she discussed each of the afternoon's selections, bringing Budiardjo on stage to discuss Chopin and his influence. Sitting at the piano, Budiardjo illustrated the technique that cemented the composer's popularity.

"In a sense," Budiardjo said, "Chopin was nodding to Bach and Mozart, and, in a way, continuing that tradition that was laid out before him. Of course, he found a new way of communicating the music he had inside of him."

Williamsport resident Mary Welty, a longtime symphony attendee, was pleased with the afternoon's first selection.

"I thought it was terrific. It was good technique and well done," Welty said. "I just like Chopin. I just like his music."

Prior to the concert, Schulze also took a few moments to recognize Tri-State high school student musicians and vocalists saluted each month during the season. Seven were in attendance and brought on stage to be applauded for their achievements.

On Saturday, July 5, MSO's 2003-04 season commences with the annual Salute to Independence concert at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.

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