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'Just the beginning'

All County orchestras perform

All County orchestras perform

January 28, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - They weren't wearing uniforms, but they were uniformly dressed in black and white.

And as their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends filled the auditorium at North Hagerstown High School Saturday night, Washington County's best student musicians could be heard warming up down the corridor.

In the auditorium, the grandparents of young Ryan Socks, a bassist from South Hagerstown High School, perused the program for the evening's concert by the All County Middle and Senior High School Orchestras.

They found their grandson mistakenly listed as a student from Boonsboro.

But in the long run, it didn't matter much which school the students attended. They all would come together to play.

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And they did it on the strength of only one week of rehearsals together.

Their audience was ready to watch - applause erupted as members of the middle school orchestra took their seats on the stage. And they hadn't even been introduced.

Guest conductor Stephen Czarkowski, an adjunct music coach at Shepherd University and music director of the Montgomery College Symphony Orchestra, told the audience that the students had had a week of "long rehearsals" - but that "tonight's performance is just the beginning for some of them."

They performed seven pieces, ranging from standards by Handel and Verdi to bluegrass.

And to prove that even serious musicians can let their hair down, nearly all of them donned sleek pairs of shades for "Banana Slug Blues" - in which they alternately played their instruments, snapped their fingers and clapped their hands. "Banana Slug Blues" clearly was a crowd favorite.

After a brief intermission, the senior high school orchestra launched into a dramatic piece called "Bounty Hunter from 'Advent Rising Suite'" under the direction of Elizabeth Schulze, conductor of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

That particular piece, she said, originally was written for a video game.

Such technologies, Schulze noted, were offering new opportunities for young composers, who she said "are writing music for iPods and jingles for your cell phones."

But there was plenty of musical legacy to go around - works by Johannes Brahms and jazz musician Chuck Mangione also were on tap.

The concert also offered school officials a chance to urge support for music education. Along with all of the credits printed in the evening's program were two pages listing the advantages of a music education.

Both Czarkowski and Schulze thanked parents for supporting the students' music lessons, allowing them "to give their gifts back to us."

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