HAGERSTOWN — There was a decidedly different feel to the music when the Maryland Symphony Orchestra took the stage Sunday.
With Nick Kendall on violin and a drummer sitting at a kit in the middle of the orchestra at The Maryland Theatre, the music took on a funky beat before fans who were anxious for the change.
Kendall started his performance at the front row of the spectator section down from the stage.
He looked out at the audience at one point and said, “I just need a hug.”
“Here,” said MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze, welcoming Kendall into her arms.
Kendall appreciates different styles of music like jazz and hip-hop, and he and Schulze talked before Sunday’s 3 p.m. performance about the importance of blending new and old musical styles.
Schulze said while people like Beethoven inspired fans with their classical music, new composers are blending all music types.
Kendall recalled the music he enjoyed over the years and what he gravitated to on the airwaves.
“WAMU had the bluegrass station, which I loved,” said Kendall, who has incorporated the genre into his music.
The orchestra is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and on Sunday, Schulze pointed to a large cake sitting on the edge of the stage. She then welcomed everyone to join in singing “Happy Birthday” to the orchestra.
Schulze recognized young people in the audience and said perhaps they had come to the performance because they had been impressed by Kendall’s music.
“This is the music of your century,” Schulze told the younger audience, explaining that it was up to them to carry on the tradition.
Kendall was in town last month to do an educational residency and conducted master classes at Smithsburg and North Hagerstown high schools, and at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
Dodie Ruskie of Hagerstown was ready for Sunday’s show and all the variety Kendall was expected to deliver.
Kendall talked before Sunday’s performance about how people in Germany could relate to his interest in bluegrass.
Ruskie said she was not surprised by that, adding that Germans seem to like “everything American. There’s just no way I can’t be here,” she said.