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Santa meets the symphony

Maryland Symphony Orchestra welcomes children, and concerts feature holiday favorites

Maryland Symphony Orchestra welcomes children, and concerts feature holiday favorites

December 15, 2005|by KATE COLEMAN

There will be no French hens, leaping lords or milking maids on The Maryland Theatre stage this weekend.

There won't be room.

The space will be more than occupied by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and many musical friends during the two days of holiday concerts in the orchestra's 24th season.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, Music Director Elizabeth Schulze and the MSO will welcome the season with "Glorious Holiday Spirits," presenting Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria," holiday favorites and a couple of songs from the Clear Spring Middle School chorus.

"Santa Symphony," a one-hour program - designed with children in mind - will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18. The concert will include two of the most popular movements of Vivaldi's composition.

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The 85-member Hagerstown Choral Arts chorus, with Director Greg Shook and soloists Katie Fitzsimmons, Jan Aaland and Claudia Patterson, will be featured on the Vivaldi piece, a work Schulze said she's loved since she was very young.

"It's so expressive and so beautiful - ltalian, light," she said.

The piece is going to be a challenge for everybody - the musicians, the chorus and the soloists, she added.

Schulze said she is glad to be featuring local talent.

Soprano Katie Fitzsimmons, a Williamsport resident, will perform a solo and a duet with alto Claudia Patterson, who lives in Charles Town, W.Va.

Fitzsimmons, who has done some solo work in the area, has not previously performed with the MSO. She earned her undergraduate degree in music education and her master's degree in vocal performance. She teaches in her private studio.

Patterson said she loves both the musical theater and classical repertoire.

She called the Vivaldi a "wonderful piece" and said she is looking forward to performing with the MSO. She called Schulze a considerate conductor, one who is attentive to the chorus as well as the orchestra she's directing.

"I'm very excited about performing with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, said soprano Jan Aaland, who has sung with the Harrisburg (Pa.), Annapolis (Md.) and Maryland Lyric operas.

Aaland gives voice lessons to students at Hood College in Frederick, Md., and in the studio in her Braddock Heights, Md., home.

The Clear Spring Middle School chorus, directed by David Baker, also will be part of the musical celebration.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the kids," said Baker, who will provide guitar accompaniment for his more than 80 young vocalists on "Go Tell It on the Mountain."

Baker credited seventh-grader James Firestein and his grand-prize lyrics with winning that opportunity for his fellow chorus members.

They will sing the words James wrote to the tune of "White Christmas" for the MSO's fifth annual Holiday Lyric Contest, open to Washington County middle school students.

James decided to enter because he "thought it would be cool to go up on stage with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra." He counted out the syllables and then matched the words to write his version of the holiday favorite.

"I just have a real love for poetry and music," he said.

The weekend performances will mark a return to The Maryland Theatre stage for many of the eighth-grade members of the group. Two years ago Stephanie Baker's words won the chorus the chance to perform with the orchestra.

"It's a wonderful honor for the school," said Principal Paul Engle. He plans to attend the Saturday evening performance.

Another visitor is expected. A "very special guest" (wearing a red suit - not a tuxedo) will complete the holiday roster.

"It's going to be a lovely concert," Schulze promised.




If you go...



WHAT: Maryland Symphony Orchestra holiday concerts

WHEN: "Glorious Holiday Spirits" will feature Vivaldi's "Gloria" as well as holiday favorites at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. "Santa Symphony," a one-hour concert of holiday favorites designed with children in mind, will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets for either performance cost $19 for adults and $11 for children 12 and younger and can be purchased at the MSO office at 13 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown - open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets also are available by calling 301-797-4000.

MORE: Ticket-holders are invited to "Cookies with Santa," a preconcert event 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at One Two Kangaroo, 4 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown.

Attendees will have a chance to have cookies and punch and hear Santa read a holiday story. Tickets for "Cookies with Santa" cost $5. Call 301-797-4000 for reservations. If inclement weather causes a cancellation, the concert snow date is 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19.




Winning lyrics



BBrrr it's winter,

It's the Christmas season.

When mistletoe is hung above,

When tots' eyes glisten,

Adults start kissin',

And Santa looks for his red gloves.

BBrrr it's winter,

It's the Christmas season.

When carolers go door to door.

Singing songs of love hope and joy.

Bringing happiness to every girl and boy.

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