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Kids take notes at MSO family concert

March 05, 2006|By Kate Coleman

HAGERSTOWN

Many members of the audience at Saturday's Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert were a good bit shorter than the usual ticket holders.

A few of them brought stuffed animals along for the show, and at least one well-worn "blankie" was seen.

Some concertgoers wore hoodies, some wore hair ribbons. The pre-performance hum of voices had a higher pitch.

The hour-long performance was the MSO's sixth annual family concert, designed with youngsters in mind. But the adults who had accompanied them to The Maryland Theatre didn't seem to mind at all.

Bob Heck, known to Maryland Public Television audiences as Bob the Vid Tech, returned to Hagerstown to perform again with the MSO.

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He worked the crowd before the concert - greeting children and their parents, thanking them for coming, signing autographs,

"I'm not as tall as I seem on TV," he said as he posed on his knees for a snapshot with a young fan.

He gave a musical sort of direction to a child as they got ready for another photo.

"Say obbligato," he sang out. "No, just say cheese."

Heck's role Saturday was to narrate the story of "Molly Pitcher," the fourth in Maryland composer Robert Lichtenberger's musical folk legends, the first to feature a female heroine.

"Let's hear it for girl power," Heck encouraged the house.

"This is the very first time that this piece of music has come to life," said Music Director Elizabeth Schulze as she welcomed Lichtenberger to the stage.

Heck then told the audience that they would hear the story of "Peter and the Wolf." Each character would be represented by a different instrument, and the orchestra offered an introduction to each.

Four puppeteers and their puppets, members of Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater Inc., also were on stage to show the story.

Grace Simonson, 6, a first-grader at Greenbrier Elementary School who had attended the MSO's Symphony Saturdays, said harp and flute are her favorite instruments.

There was no harp in "Peter and the Wolf," but Grace enjoyed the concert.

She watched intently as the cat, portrayed by the clarinet, became interested in the duck, portrayed by the oboe.

She sat on the edge of her seat as the wolf approached and bobbed her head to the rhythm of Peter's triumphant procession.

Ben Denton, 6, a Conococheague Elementary School first-grader, said the wolf was his favorite.

After the performance, the audience greeted the puppets and puppeteers at the edge of the stage.

In the lobby, Melinda and Mark Myers, who had portrayed Molly Pitcher and her husband during the performance, were busy posing for photos with some of the orchestra's newest fans.

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