Mozart, soloist win high praise

February 13, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

HAGERSTOWN - Scientific theories aside, there was no question about the "Mozart effect" on members of the audience at the Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert Sunday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre.

They got to their feet after the program's first half and reprised their spirited standing ovation at the concert's close.

"I loved it," said Jane Keller of Hagerstown, a season ticketholder for three years. "Mozart is great. He's always fun to listen to."

Martinsburg, W.Va., resident Tammy Dutton said she's loved Mozart since she was a child. She came to hear the MSO for the first time because of the afternoon's all-Mozart program.

"I'm absolutely breathtaken," she said at intermission.

She and the rest of the nearly full house, some of whom originally held tickets for Saturday's snowed-out performance, had just heard the overture to Mozart's opera, "Il Re Pastore," written when the composer was 19 years old. That was followed by Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, which he wrote a few months before he died at age 35.


The concert, the third MasterWorks offering of the orchestra's 24th season, was a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. It was presented Friday evening at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md., said Mary Anne Ellifritz, the MSO's director of Marketing & Public Relations.

That performance had an unscheduled intermission during the Clarinet Concerto when the stage lights unexpectedly went out. Music Director Elizabeth Schulze and featured soloist Beverly Butts presented an impromptu discussion of the music.

Sunday during Prelude, the preconcert discussion of the program, Schulze called Butts, the MSO's principal clarinet, "one of the real jewels and real leaders of the orchestra."

Butts described the concerto's final movement as "quintessential Mozart."

Dave Brill of Chambersburg, Pa., said as a five-year season ticketholder, his expectations are high.

"She didn't disappoint me," he said of Butts. "I think she did an outstanding job."

Robyn Cole, 14, of Middletown, Md., came from the back of the theater to present Butts with a bouquet of red roses after her performance. Robyn is first-chair clarinet in the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra.

Brill could hear a difference in the performance because of the new acoustical shell which made its debut Sunday.

"Absolutely," he said. "I could hear the individual instruments."

He said he also found the wood-veneered panels and beams visually pleasing.

William Rice left eight to nine inches of snow in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., to attend the performance. He said the music was "brilliant" and "sparkling."

If you go ...

What: "A Birthday Toast to Mozart"

When: Tonight, 8

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

Tickets cost $20 to $72 for adults and $10 to $36 for children 12 and younger and full-time students. They can be purchased at the MSO box office, 13 S. Potomac St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets also are available by calling 301-797-4000.

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