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MSO concert fills theater with spirit of holiday

December 18, 2005|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

alician@herald-mail.com

Holiday spirit seemed to sprinkle about The Maryland Theatre Saturday night like musical fairy dust.

In the moments leading up to the curtain, concert-goers young and old hurried in from the cold to the warmth of the theater in anticipation of "Glorious Holiday Spirits," a musical celebration of the season.

Tim and Laura Hunter of Martinsburg, W.Va., took their daughters, Hannah, 13, and Rebekah, 10, to the concert, along with another couple and their three daughters.

"We are really excited and looking forward to seeing a Christmas concert," Laura Hunter said.

Marti Miller, 21, and her boyfriend, Adam Schetrompf, 23, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said they have attended MSO holiday concerts for the past few years.

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"It puts you in the Christmas spirit, the holiday spirit, the giving spirit," Schetrompf said.

That spirit became almost palpable when Music Director Elizabeth Schulze leaped on stage sparkling in a red sequined tunic and the concert commenced. The women of the orchestra were elegant in black, while the men looked festive in black tuxedos with red bow ties and cummerbunds.

The concert opened with Anderson's "A Christmas Festival," a medley of popular Christmas tunes that Schulze described as running the gamut from "tender to cheer-filled."

Following the opening piece, Schulze welcomed the crowd to a celebration of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.

"This is a magnificent season in which the best of the human spirit is celebrated," she said.

Schulze went on to introduce the Hagerstown Choral Arts chorus, with Director Greg Shook and soloists Katie Fitzsimmons, Jan Aaland and Claudia Patterson. Schulze said the chorus has collaborated with the MSO for six of the seven seasons during which she has served as music director.

"I absolutely adore the opportunity to work with this group of remarkable people," Schulze said. "I am so pleased that with this concert, we show you the very best of the talent right here in our own community."

The two groups joined musical forces on Wilberg's "Angels We Have Heard on High" and for a dynamic performance of Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria."

During the second half of the concert, the Clear Spring Middle School Chorus chimed in, singing holiday tunes under the direction of David Baker.

Seventh-grader James Firestein earned the chorus the opportunity to perform by taking the grand prize in the MSO's fifth annual Holiday Lyric Contest, which is open to Washington County middle-school students. The group sang new lyrics penned by Firestein to the tune of "White Christmas," as well as the seasonal standard "Go Tell It on the Mountain."

Chelsea Smith, 13, is an eighth-grader at Clear Spring Middle School who performed with the chorus.

"It's fun to get all dressed up and get into the Christmas spirit," Smith said. "And it's a really great experience to sing with the orchestra."

"It's a privilege to be here and be able to sing," said Ross Reid, 13, another member of the chorus. "It's very exciting."

The evening was topped with several more holiday tunes, an appearance by Santa Claus and a crowd-pleasing performance of Mumford's "Christmas Sing-Along."

"We want very much for this concert to be our holiday offering to the community," said Mary Anne Ellifritz, the MSO's director of marketing and public relations."




If you go



What:

"Santa Symphony," presented by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

When:

Today, 3 p.m.

Where:

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

Tickets are $19 for adults and $11 for ages 12 and younger and may be purchased at the MSO office, 13 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown; or by calling 301-797-4000. Ticket holders are invited to "Cookies with Santa," a preconcert event from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at One Two Kangaroo, 4 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown. Tickets for "Cookies with Santa" cost $5. Call 301-797-4000 for reservations.

If inclement weather causes a cancellation, the concert snow date is Monday at 8 p.m.

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