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Audience 'allowed' to laugh at concert

November 13, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

HAGERSTOWN - Before beginning Sunday afternoon's concert, Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze encouraged members of The Maryland Theatre audience to smile and laugh.

She gave them permission to "guffaw and hee hee" at the surprises they would hear in the music.

There were occasional giggles at the musical jokes - including a few lines of "Chopsticks" - in "Commedia for 'Almost' 18th Century Orchestra" by William Bolcom, a contemporary composer who received the National Medal of Arts last week in Washington, D.C.

The smiles continued as the orchestra was joined by pianist Shai Wosner for Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat, written when the composer was 21 years old. Wosner conceded during Prelude that Mozart was young when he wrote it, but said his "skill, genius and imagination were already there."

Schulze called Wosner "one of the most miraculous and substantial artists" to perform with the orchestra.

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Audience members seemed to agree.

"He's good. He's excellent," said Harry Spalt of Martinsburg, W.Va., who heard Emanuel Ax and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform the concerto earlier this year.

When he learned that Ax was Shai Wosner's teacher at the Juilliard School in New York, he called the 30-year-old pianist "a chip off the old block."

"He's very, very good," Purcellville, Va., resident Pam Lowry said of Wosner.

"He was great," said Miriam Helsing of Williamsport, who has attended MSO concerts "since the beginning."

"Each year seems to get better than the year before. We're very lucky to get her," Helsing said of Schulze.

Donald Leslie and Tom Miller have been MSO season subscribers for about four years.

"We've seen improvement," said Miller, who lives near Shepherdstown, W.Va. "She (Schulze) can play them with more vigor."

The program concluded with Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36, a work written as the composer coped with the loss of his hearing. Yet, it is the symphony in which Beethoven first used the Italian word "scherzo," which means joke, and Schulze described its conclusion as "joyous."

"I think the Beethoven was played with gusto - which I like," said Colin Lowry of New Market, Md.

Spalt called it "quite spirited."

"That's not easy," Leslie said as the symphony concluded and the audience rose to its feet.

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