MSO celebrates holiday with soloists and a singalong this weekend

December 14, 2011|By KATE COLEMAN |
  • File photo Maryland Symphony Orchestra presents its annual holiday concert, Home for the Holidays, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The orchestra will perform music with soloists and choruses.
File photo

There will be no partridge, no pear tree and no calling birds on The Maryland Theatre stage this weekend.

There will be no room.

The space this weekend will be more than filled by Music Director Elizabeth Schulze leading the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and many musical friends during the annual “Home for the Holidays” concerts.

Guest performers will include two choruses —  the Cumberland Choral Society and Hagerstown Choral Arts. Soprano Elisabeth Turchi, who made her MSO debut last April in the symphony’s “A Night at the Opera” concert, will return. Louisa Tringali, a senior at Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., will sing “O Holy Night.” She earned the opportunity to perform at the concerts by winning the MSO’s vocal competition last September.

Even the audience will have a chance to get into the act in the popular carol sing-along. The gift of music will be shared by all.

Most of the 50-member Cumberland (Md.) Choral Society will carpool from the Western Maryland city for “Home for the Holidays,” said Judith Brown, the group’s artistic director since the fall of 2010. The Pittsburgh native, who earned her undergraduate degree at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., became director of music at the First Presbyterian Church in Cumberland six years ago after living and working in New York for three decades.

Community members audition for the chorus, which is in its 70th year. “It’s going strong,” Brown said in a recent phone interview.

Schulze conducted the ensemble in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” last spring, and Brown said some MSO musicians have played at her church for special occasions.

“We’re really very excited to join everyone,” Brown said. The ensemble will perform Gustav Holst’s “Christmas Day,” and join Hagerstown Choral Arts in other works.

Hagerstown Choral Arts’ membership is up to about 70 this year, but not every member will be at this weekend’s MSO concerts, said Gregory Shook, the organization’s founding musical and artistic director. The ensemble has performed with the MSO several times in its 19-season existence.

“They love it. They really love it. It’s a special time for us,” he added.

The Hagerstown chorus will sing “Still, Still, Still,” an Austrian carol and lullaby arranged by Mack Wilberg, Shook said.

Turchi, who is Shook’s faculty colleague at Shepherd University, sang the soprano solo in Hagerstown Choral Arts’ presentation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem a couple of years ago. “She’s wonderful,” Shook said. “We will all say, ‘We knew her when,’” he added.

“It’s been a busy couple months,” Turchi said in a recent phone interview from New York City, where she was auditioning. She was featured in Dec. 3 and 4 performances with the Mercersburg (Pa.) Area Community Chorus at Mercersburg Academy.

Turchi will sing next month in the Washington, D.C.-area Bel Cantanti Opera Company’s production of Mozart’s comic opera, “Der Schauspieldirektor” (“The Impresario”).

“It’s good to be busy,” Turchi said.

She said she is honored and excited to be invited back to perform with the MSO. Turchi will sing four pieces, including “Gesu Bambino,” by Pietro Yon. Singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” one of her favorite contemporary Christmas carols, feels like wrapping herself in a warm blanket, she said.

Turchi called Jeff Tyzik’s “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas” a fun play on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Individual instrumental sections of the orchestra are highlighted, and the end result is that music is a great gift, she added.

“One of my favorite things about my work is the people I get to meet,” Turchi said. “Colleagues become friends, and friends become family. That makes the holidays even brighter.”

If you go ...        

WHAT: Maryland Symphony Orchestra presents its annual holiday concerts, “Home for the Holidays”

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

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18

COST: Tickets for the concert cost $22 for adults, $18 for students and $12 for ages 12 and younger. Group rates are available.

CONTACT: Tickets may be purchased online at; in person at 30 W. Washington St., Hagerstown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling the MSO box office at 301-797-4000.

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