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MSO's virtuosity on display Sunday

April 24, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

HAGERSTOWN - Before Sunday afternoon's performance at The Maryland Theatre, Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze promised that the concert would be a wonderful showcase of the orchestra's virtuosity.

"The orchestra has come a long way this year," she said.

The audience for MasterWorks V, the final concert of the MSO's 24th season, agreed.

"Wow! Isn't that something?" Ann Bilezikian said.

She was talking about Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances," the final selection of the program.

Bilezikian, who played oboe professionally for 40 years and taught at the Peabody Institute, lives in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. She and her husband, Eddie Bilezikian, have been attending MSO performances for five years and have seen each of this season's MasterWorks concerts.

"I think today was the most exciting," Eddie Bilezikian said. "We are both crazy about 20th-century music."

The Sunday afternoon program opened with John Harbison's "Remembering Gatsby: Fox Trot for Orchestra," written in the late 1980s.

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"I thought it was fun," said Dennis Genaw of North Wales, Pa. "I thoroughly enjoy orchestral music."

During Prelude, Schulze described Camille Saint-Sans' Violin Concerto No. 3 - featuring violin soloist Jennifer Frautschi - as "the heart of our program."

Joining Schulze for the preconcert discussion, Frautschi said that the concerto isn't programmed too often, but is typically part of young violin students' repertoire.

She hadn't performed the Saint-Sans since she was 14 or 15 years old, and had said she was happy to revive it for herself.

Frautschi dipped and leaned into the music. Her smile was broad at its conclusion as she took Schulze's hand, congratulated concertmaster Leonid Sushansky and bowed deeply to the orchestra and the standing, applauding audience.

"The sound just seemed to be jumping out of her violin," Genaw said.

That violin is a 1722 Antonio Stradivarius.

"Excellent," said Hagerstown resident Betty Lynch of Frautschi's performance. "So young. So talented."

The MSO's 25th season begins Saturday, July 1, with a "Salute to Independence" at Antietam National Battlefield.

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