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Hagerstown concert has homey, ho-ho feel

December 17, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - The Maryland Symphony Orchestra was the main attraction for many who braved the weather this weekend to attend "Home for the Holidays" at The Maryland Theatre, but special guests drew their share of audience, too.

Fans came from throughout the region to hear The Frederick Chorale, the Springfield Middle School Chamber Choir and NBC25 newscaster Pieter Bickford, and children were delighted by a guest appearance by Santa Claus, who bounded in to the tune of "Here Comes Santa Claus" and led the audience in a Christmas singalong.

That was the highlight of the concert for 7-year-old Chloe Huntsbery of Hagerstown, who enjoyed singing familiar Christmas songs Sunday, including her favorite, "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

"It's a lot of songs I like to hear," she said.

Even before the singalong portion, Jack Rucker, 69, of Waynesboro, Pa., couldn't resist chiming in quietly from the back row as The Frederick Chorale sang "Hallelujah."

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"That's a potentially bad habit, but I don't think it is," said Rucker, who used to take voice lessons from a member of the Frederick Chorale. "I like to harmonize my baritone part with them and see how closely it matches what the baritones are singing."

The orchestra's music director, Elizabeth Schulze, said she was excited to perform with The Frederick Chorale.

"One of the joys of this season, and the joys of this concert, is being able to share the talent that is in the area," she said.

But for Tim Moats, 42, of Clear Spring, the orchestra's talent alone would have been plenty.

"The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, for being in Hagerstown, is exceptionally good," said Moats, who has been attending MSO concerts since the 1980s. "You don't have to drive to D.C. to hear really good performances."

Moats said The Maryland Theatre is a convenient venue and he likes that it's small enough that he doesn't feel like he has to squint to see anything.

"I would come if they played cartoon music," he said. "Anything they play would be beautiful."

The orchestra showed its versatility as it played along to Bickford's reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," producing music that bounded down the chimney, shook like a bowl full of jelly and turned with a jerk along with Santa.

MSO Executive Director Andrew Kipe said about 750 people attended Saturday evening's concert and about 900 people attended Sunday.

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