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Guild 'Puttin' on the Ritz' to raise money for orchestra

November 07, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Symphony Orchestra Guild stepped back in time Saturday night to an era of contradiction.

Through the tumult of prohibition, Al Capone-style corruption and the 1929 stock market crash emerged the elegance of 1930s film.

"The sophisticated Ginger Rogers and the suave Fred Astaire danced seamlessly through life's tribulations," said Linda Hood, president of the guild.

The guild invited guests to do likewise for an evening at the annual Maryland Symphony Orchestra Ball at Fountain Head Country Club. This year's theme was "Puttin' on the Ritz."

Attendees posed for pictures alongside a shiny 1939 Buick, then proceeded onward toward the affair via red carpet.

Some wore flapper-style headbands. Others held whimsical cigarette holders. They were greeted by doormen sporting top hats and white gloves. Pianist John A. Nicholas provided entertainment as they mingled over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and perused auction items. A prized item was a four-night stay at The Ritz London.

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Dining tables were set in black, white and silver linens. Lithe, white calla lillies served as centerpieces, striking poses in handsome glass vases.

Guests paid $125 per ticket to take part in an event that was elegant, yet not excessive. Hood said the ball committee chose to practice fiscal restraint in response to a strained economy.

"I think we have put together a wonderful, razzle-dazzle, elegant evening without spending a lot on the fluff," Hood said. "We are having a chateaubriand dinner even though we were working with hot dogs."

Julia Cardenas of Hagerstown said she attends the ball each year.

"Music is in me," Cardenas said. "I was born to a classical violinist. I must support this."

Cardenas was accompanied by her 19-year-old granddaughter, Jessica Cardenas.

Debbie Cortina, 39, of Hagerstown, said though she was attending the ball for her first time, she is an avid supporter of the MSO.

"I enjoy many concerts. I bring my parents and aunt and uncle from Virginia and Pennsylvania," Cortina said. "This is a lovely, fun evening. It seems like many people must put a lot of work into it."

Hood said 203 people attended the event. The guild hoped to raise around $50,000.

Judy Castle, vice president of the guild, called the ball "a real quality affair."

"People expect something special, and they get it every year they come," Castle said.

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