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MSO scores hometown holiday talent

December 11, 2008|By KATE COLEMAN

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present its annual Home for the Holidays concerts this weekend at The Maryland Theatre.

The program is a "truly homegrown celebration of the best in our community," said MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

Hagerstown Choral Arts will sing on many songs. Hagerstown native and resident Kelly Wright of Fox News Channel will be home for the holiday concerts, and soprano Sheridan Webb, a 16-year-old Clear Spring High School junior, will also join the musical festivities.

Gregory Paul Shook co-founded Hagerstown Choral Arts in 1993 and has been its musical and artistic director since 1994. The Hagerstown native recently came home after serving five years as pastor of Woodbridge (Va.) Church of the Brethren. He's begun his duties as minister of music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, where the chorus will present its annual Christmas concert Dec. 20.

The chorus has performed with the MSO before in holiday concerts - including a few at Antietam National Battlefield - and in a MasterWorks performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

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More hometown talent will be featured.

Sheridan Webb, who shares the lead in Antietam Recreation's "Cowboy Christmas," will solo on "Joy to the World." She sang the song when she auditioned for Schulze, who sang with her to help Sheridan learn the descant.

"I'm not nervous, because I love it too much to be nervous," Sheridan said.

Schulze is excited to be working with Kelly Wright again. Wright, who works for Fox in Washington, D.C., will be with the MSO instead of making his weekly trip to New York to anchor the television network's "America's News Headquarters," which airs Saturdays.

He had narrated Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" at the MSO's 2006 Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield. At the time, he said he'd love to sing with the orchestra. The opportunity arrived with this year's holiday concerts.

Wright started his singing career in church. He headlined at the Cotton Club in New York City in his secular life, and has opened shows with national recording artists including James Brown, Shirley Caesar and Vickie Winans.

This weekend he will perform "Go Tell It On the Mountain" and "The Christmas Song," the song he always chose to sing at the Christmas concert during his four years at St. Maria Goretti High School. Wright also will sing "I'll Be Home For Christmas" in tribute to U.S. troops.

He said he saw some of those troops firsthand when he was in Iraq for about three months in 2004.

Having served in the U.S. Army for four years, Wright said he knows what it's like not to be home for the holidays.

"It's really a good touch of America remembering that there are many people who won't be home for the holidays. But in spirit, they will be," he said.

The program includes a variety of holiday music. "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies," "Hallelujah Chorus," "A Charlie Brown Christmas Medley" and "Sleigh Ride" also are on the bill.

There's something for everyone, Shook said. The secret is to draw people into the production by making it come alive for all age levels, he added.

Audience members certainly will be drawn into the production when Santa Claus arrives to lead them in a yuletide singalong.




If you go...



WHAT: The Maryland Symphony Orchestra Home for the Holidays concert.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, December 13 and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 14

COST: Tickets for the concert cost $12 to $22. Group rates available. Tickets may be purchased online at www.marylandsymphony.org or by calling the MSO box office at 301-797-4000.

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