Bringing music to Martinsburg

January 25, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- When the fledgling Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra performs in Martinsburg for the first time on March 8, the audience should expect to hear more than classical compositions by "the dead white Germans," its conductor says.

"Orchestras are not museums," added conductor D. Mark McCoy, who hopes to build on the successful debut of the professional ensemble in Shepherdstown, W.Va., last year.

"We're going about it ambitiously on one hand and cautiously on the other," McCoy said of the venture by the Friends of Music, a nonprofit organization that supports Shepherd University's music programs.

"We're a pay-as-we-go kind of group."

Free tickets to the 3 p.m. concert at Martinsburg High School by Two Rivers will be given to public and private school students, McCoy said.


The orchestra is comprised of 40 to 50 musicians in the Baltimore-Washington area and university faculty members whose premiere performance attracted a standing-room-only crowd at the college's Frank Center for the Creative Arts, McCoy said.

Because of last year's success, the orchestra, which is named after the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at nearby Harpers Ferry, W.Va., announced a 2008-09 season.

Hoping to enlist more community and corporate support, McCoy touted the orchestra's founding at the City Club forum in Martinsburg last Wednesday. Nearly 40 people contributed $1,000 each to be founders last year, McCoy said in an interview after his presentation.

McCoy also noted that studies have repeatedly shown economic benefits generated by arts events. According to one national survey, for every $1 spent by audiences attending arts events, $2.31 is spent on hotels, restaurants, transportation, and other goods and services, McCoy said.

City Club moderator Paul Pritchard said the orchestra concert is more than another cultural event in Martinsburg, which he said could potentially benefit from having the ensemble help make music a "cornerstone" in the city.

"Hopefully, Martinsburg will embrace it," Pritchard said. "I think it is a great initiative by Mark McCoy."

More information about concert tickets is available at

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