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Feeling the love for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

October 05, 2012|Kate Coleman

"Don't trust anyone over 30."

That 1960s admonition certainly doesn't apply to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

The MSO has begun its 31st season.

I trust the MSO.

Sure, it's a baby compared to the nearly 170-year-old New York Philharmonic, but many are surprised that our still semi-rural community can support this symphony orchestra. Sustaining three decades is pretty impressive, especially in tough economic times.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to write about the MSO for this newspaper. And I've been covering the MSO for nearly half of its 30 years. I was thrilled in 1998 to do a big piece on the orchestra's founding music director, Barry Tuckwell, as he prepared for his final concert in Hagerstown. I profiled the four candidates who conducted the concerts that served as their auditions for the music director position. I covered the 1999 press conference in which the selection of Elizabeth Schulze for the job was announced.

I really enjoy getting to preview the orchestra's concerts — chatting with guest soloists, learning a bit about their lives and why and how on earth they do what they do — then sharing it with readers. I really enjoy talking with MSO players — getting to know a bit about them and their dedication to the music.

I preface many of those conversations by admitting that I am not a "music writer." I am not qualified to review the performances. I've said it before: I go for the goose bumps.

Since working just part time these past several years, I've been attending MSO concerts as a civilian.

Nothing compares to live performance. I have lots of Bruce Springsteen and a few of jazz singer René Marie's albums, and I enjoy listening at home. But it's not even close to as exciting as being in the same space and in the same moment as the artists as they work their magic.

Magic also happens at MSO concerts. The 31st season is under way. Check it out at

I might recognize a passage or two of a couple of the works the MSO will perform. I am thrilled that the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" are on the bill for the April 18 and 19 performances. I love this music and found a wonderful version of it on YouTube and emailed it to a high school friend — he, Tony to my Maria — for his birthday last spring.

But I've never heard most of the music on the season's program.

That's part of the reason I go to the MSO performances. I want to hear things that are new to me, and I say this as a person who is most definitely "over 30."

I suppose I write this at the risk of damaging my credibility as an objective and impartial journalist.

Nah. Rest assured: I get no free tickets or payola from the MSO.

And besides, as a columnist, I get to tell you what I think, what I like, what I'm excited about. I trust Elizabeth Schulze and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra to expand my musical horizons and enrich my life.

Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.

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