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High school students strike a chord with Maryland Symphony

May 15, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - It's always been her dream to perform with a professional orchestra.

North Hagerstown High School senior Mary Schultz and four other high school students turned their dreams into reality Wednesday when they played with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra at The Maryland Theatre. They'll perform two concerts again today in front of about 1,500 fourth-graders - most from Washington County Public Schools.

The performances are part of the orchestra's annual Citi Youth Concerts, MSO Executive Director Andrew Kipe said. More than 76,000 students have attended the concerts since they began in 1985. For the past four years, high school students have auditioned to perform with the orchestra during the shows.

"It's a dream come true for me to play with a professional group," Mary said.

She's played the cello for about eight years and said she is part of her school's orchestra. Other high school students who performed in the Citi Youth Concerts are Jeff Jacobson of South Hagerstown High School; Tyler Austin of Boonsboro High School; Zachary Levin of North Hagerstown High School; and Noah Lizer of James Wood High School in Winchester, Va.

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Zachary, a North High senior, said he jumped at the chance to play in the Citi Youth Concerts. He's played the flute for three years, and said he remembers watching the Maryland Symphony Orchestra perform at The Maryland Theatre when her was younger.

"It's very intimidating the first time (you play with the orchestra)," Zachary said. "It's a big deal."

Jeff, a South High senior, said playing with professional musicians is much different than performing with his classmates.

"There's not much joking around like there is in school," he said.

Jeff, 17, has played the tuba for seven years, and said he was nervous before Wednesday's performance. All of the student musicians said they were excited and honored to have the opportunity to play with professionals.

Before the two days of concerts, the students rehearsed with the MSO.

"It's amazing to get to sit in front of the conductor and just play and have a great time," said Tyler, a Boonsboro High School senior who plays the bassoon.

Tyler's conductor Wednesday was MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze, who presided over the concerts, called "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." Musical selections included Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," Antonio Vivaldi's "Concerto in A Minor for Two Violins," and Mikhail Glinka's "Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla."

Vivaldi's piece, performed Wednesday, featured 12 middle-school musicians from the Washington, D.C., area.

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