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Symphony plays selections chosen by vote of audience

March 27, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

"Today's concert has everything to do with you," Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze told members of the preconcert Prelude audience Sunday afternoon at The Maryland Theatre.

The program was made up of favorites, determined by audience vote a couple of seasons ago.

A 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn's overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" got things started.

"It's a miracle," Schulze said.

Next was Johannes Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, written when the composer was 25 - the same age as piano soloist Jonathan Biss.

Biss, who represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians, said before the concert that he heard music before he was born.

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"Music is still the best and most beautiful means of communication," he said.

Few in the audience would have disagreed.

"That's what I call intense," whispered Joice Maurer after the concerto's first movement. The Waynesboro, Pa., resident commented of Biss that the music "is so much a part of him" and seemed to be coming out of him - not the piano.

Biss shared a hug with Schulze as the audience stood and applauded loudly and long. He bowed deeply then turned quickly to applaud the orchestra.

Ralph Holweck of Woodsboro, Md., has been coming to hear the MSO for 22 years. A pianist himself, he called the Brahms "one of the most difficult piano concertos." He marveled that Biss has everything - "expression, technique."

Jessica Fitzwater, a violinist and music teacher who has been attending MSO concerts for at least 15 of her 22 years, called the program's first half "fantastic."

She noticed good communication between Biss and Schulze and thought the orchestra's balance and blend is "10 times better" with the new acoustic shell.

"They're playing so incredibly well together," said her father, David Fitzwater. "It's the real thing."

The performance concluded with Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor. The audience appreciated their favorite symphony with cheers and shouts.

The orchestra's 24th season concludes April 22 and 23 with MasterWorks V," A Sparkling Season Finale.

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