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Violin hits right note for Smithsburg teen

November 12, 2007|By JANET HEIM

SMITHSBURG ? Michael Baer said he'll miss performing at events like Hollyfest next year when he's away at college. For now, though, he's going to enjoy his fourth and final performance at the annual downtown Hagerstown event, as he plays violin with the Smithsburg High School Orchestra.

Hollyfest, which is free to the public, will be Monday at The Maryland Theatre at 7 p.m. The tree lighting in Hagerstown's Public Square will take place at 5 p.m.

In addition to Smithsburg High's Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, other performances at Hollyfest will include Tri-State Twirlers Extreme Majorettes, Northern Middle School Orchestra, Dancin' Time Studios and Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company. Miss Washington County will read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Michael, 17, started taking private violin lessons when he was in second grade. He plays his grandfather's violin, which is about 100 years old, Michael said.

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The 37 string players in the Smithsburg High orchestra, under the direction of Evan Price, will play three pieces. Michael's favorite is "Santa Went to Georgia," a blend of familiar elements from "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and holiday songs.

Price has been Michael's orchestra teacher throughout middle and high school.

"They're great kids. I count myself lucky to work with them," Price said of his orchestra students.

When Michael isn't playing his violin, he's busy with schoolwork and a long list of activities. He's a member of the Future Business Leaders Club, Stock Market Club, Latin Club and National Honor Society at Smithsburg High.

He also plays spring soccer and runs outdoor track at school, and he likes to ski.

Michael is thinking about majoring in engineering in college and hopes he can still play violin as an extracurricular activity. He is considering attending Lehigh University, Cornell University, Rochester Institute of Technology or Drexel University, where one of his brothers attends.

The youngest of Steve and Susan Baer's four sons, Michael said it has been quiet at home this year.

"It's really different being the only one home, but I stay pretty busy," he said.

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