MSO concludes 28th season

April 22, 2010|BY KATE COLEMAN
  • Robert Martin, 29, is completing his first season with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster.
Submitted photo,

This weekend's Maryland Symphony Orchestra performances conclude the orchestra's 28th season.

"This final concert signifies an arrival at an artistic moment where the orchestra is now taking on some of the most important and challenging music in the orchestral repertoire," said Music Director Elizabeth Schulze in a press release.

The program opens with the overture to Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Euryanthe."

MSO Concertmaster Robert Martin is the featured soloist on Ludwig von Beethoven's Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2.

After intermission, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 will sound the grand finale.

"Musicians look to the Mahler symphony as the ultimate experience to play and to really delve into," Schulze added.

Martin agreed in a recent telephone conversation.

The 29-year-old violinist is completing his first season as the MSO's concertmaster, the leading member of the first violin section and the chief liaison between the conductor and the musicians.

Mahler's Symphony is a very demanding piece for the entire orchestra, he said, pointing out that Schulze has programmed pieces to get the orchestra's "chops" in shape to build toward the Mahler.


"It should be good," he added. "The chops, as I say, should be there after the great year that we've had."

Martin's year with the MSO also has been great.

"It's a wonderful situation all around," he said.

The orchestra is really a fine group of musicians - a nice mix of people, he said. Orchestra members include professional musicians, full-time freelance musicians, music teachers and people with nonmusical day jobs.

"We're there because we love the music, and that makes for really gratifying music making," he said.

Martin sees a harmonious relationship between board and management and musicians. "They really seem to actually care about us and have our best interests in mind," he said

A native and resident of the Philadelphia area, Martin is also principal second violin with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

He drives to Hagerstown the Sunday or Monday before each MasterWorks concert and is in town through the MSO's performance the following Sunday afternoon.

"I really enjoy my time when I come and spend a week," he said.

He's experienced a bit of the community - visiting his aunt and uncle, going to his young cousins' softball practices, checking out the fine arts museum and inline skating on the "wonderful" Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Martin doesn't have a regular teaching schedule right now, but he does some occasional "coaching."

As North Hagerstown High School senior Michelle Ferreira prepared for her All-State Orchestra audition, she called him at the suggestion of her orchestra teacher, Kathy Shrader.

"We had a really great session on a couple of small excerpts she had to play and scales she had to prepare, and she ended up making it," Martin said. "It's great to see students have success," he added.

As a teenager, Martin performed the Beethoven Romance he'll perform this weekend. Coming back to a piece you've known is a new opportunity, he said. You know more music and you've experienced more of life. The music makes more sense, he explained.

The Beethoven is not violin music for technical flash, Martin said. For him, it's more about the composer's music than about playing the violin.

"It's just an opportunity to sing from my heart," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: MasterWorks V, "Magnificent Mahler"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 25

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

COST: Tickets cost $22 to $49 for adults; and $12 to $25 for children 12 and younger and for full-time students. Tickets will be available at the MSO box office, 30 W. Washington St., in downtown Hagerstown, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and at The Maryland Theatre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Free tickets are available for kindergarteners through 12th-graders. College student rush tickets (no reservations accepted) will be available for $5 beginning 90 minutes before the performance. Seat selection will be at the discretion of box office personnel.

CONTACT: Call 301-797-4000 or go to

MORE: Program notes and audio clips of the musical selections and "Elizabeth's Insights," a video podcast, are available at

Music Director Elizabeth Schulze and the featured soloist will talk about the program and composers one hour before Saturday's and Sunday's performances during Prelude. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders.

Read a Q& A with MSO clarinetist Beverly Butts by clicking here

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