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Orchestra treats families to 'festival of fur and feathers'

March 06, 2005|by KATE COLEMAN

Tricia Ballard had a chance to experience three of her favorite things in downtown Hagerstown on Saturday afternoon - dance, music and cookies.

Ballard, of Martinsburg, W.Va., and her three children - ages 7 months to 5 years - attended a pre-concert tea party at Marcel's Bakery and Cafe, a few doors down from The Maryland Theatre. They then headed to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's fifth annual family concert, "Stories in Music."

"Good afternoon. How are you doing?" Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze greeted the nearly full house.

The response from the audience, which ranged from toddlers to grandparents, was not uniform, but it was enthusiastically affirmative.

The hour-long performance featured dancers from the Hagerstown-based Potomac Classical Youth Ballet.

It's a "festival of fur and feathers" said Lauran Clowser, the dance company's artistic director.

Bob Heck, known to Maryland Public Television audiences as Bob the Vid Tech, made his third appearance with the MSO, narrating Bruce Adolphe's poetry to composer Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals."

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Dancers - who portrayed animals including swaggering lions, a slow-moving turtle, a two-note cuckoo and an elegant swan - were introduced in appropriately voiced verse by Heck.

The second half of the program featured the premiere of a ballet choreographed by Clowser and based on the book "Alexandra, Keeper of Dreams," written and illustrated by Waynesboro, Pa., resident Mary Alice Baumgardner, who read her story.

The menagerie included a crocodile, a caterpillar on a skateboard and a leap-frogging frog.

The final selection celebrated the clumsy Alexandra's triumph of becoming a dancer - in her underwater ballet in Hagerstown's City Park lake. The company high-kicked a rousing can-can, and the audience joined in with spontaneous rhythmic applause.

"I thought is was very good," said Brieanna Scheer, 12, of Leitersburg.

Seven-year-old Cypress Morgan agreed and said he liked the orchestra.

"I liked Alexandra," said his sister, Kobi Morgan, 8.

"She followed her dream, and it came true."

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