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MSO, Choral Arts, soloists and Santa make audience feel Home for the Holidays

December 12, 2012|By KATE COLEMAN |
  • Hagerstown Choral Arts and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra present their annual Home for the Holidays concert.
File photo

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, mistletoe, candy canes and stockings hung with care — all are traditions of the December holiday season.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has its own holiday tradition.

“Home for the Holidays,” the MSO’s 25th annual Christmas concert, will celebrate the season at The Maryland Theatre this weekend.

There are traditions within that tradition.

The concert is an opportunity to showcase the talent and dedication of our community’s musicians, of all ages, in a musical celebration of the season, Music Director Elizabeth Schulze wrote in an email. “A perfect gift for our audience.”

“This year we celebrate the 20-year anniversary of our good musical friends, Hagerstown Choral Arts,” she added.

As they have many times before, members of the choral ensemble will lend their talents to the celebration.

“I love the symphony thing,” said founding Director Gregory Shook in a recent phone conversation. “Elizabeth is so wonderful to work with.”

In honor of the group’s 20th year, Schulze invited Shook to conduct two pieces on the program, he added.

Also on the bill is baritone Robert Tudor, who will sing two songs — the traditional French “March of the Kings” and Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song.” Tudor said he’s very excited about the opportunity.

“I know a lot of the MSO musicians. Elizabeth Schulze’s reputation is outstanding,” he said.

As a subscriber to the MSO, he’s been able to see Schulze conduct.

Tudor is in his first semester as director of vocal activities and chair of the Department of Music at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va. He said Shepherd has a great music program. His colleagues are excellent to work with, and he’s delighted by the students, he said.

“A holiday concert is such a special thing — especially when you have the kids there,” Tudor said.

“The kids” — this year the approximately 20 seventh- and eighth-graders who comprise the Northern Middle School Women’s Ensemble — will perform. Nicole Swartwood directs the Hagerstown chorus.

Another young person who will be on stage is 17-year-old violinist Russell Iceberg, the most recent winner of an MSO competition to select a soloist for its annual Youth Concert. The home-schooled senior from New Market, Md., said he’s thrilled to have the “wonderful and unique opportunity” of performing with the MSO.

Russell started playing violin as a 4-year-old, taking lessons with Phyllis Freeman, the MSO’s principal violist.

He will perform “White Christmas.” He had heard a recording of legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz performing the song and tracked down Kevin Kaska’s transcription for solo violin and orchestra based on the Heifetz arrangement.

Hustle-bustle — the decorating, the baking, the shopping, the parties — is part of the holiday season. Performers can be especially busy, and those featured in “Home for the Holidays” are among them. Iceberg was onstage Nov. 29 at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, Md. Shepherd University Department of Music’s Holiday Gala was Dec. 2. Hagerstown Choral Arts’ annual Christmas concert was Dec. 8, and Northern Middle School’s Winter Choral Concert was Dec. 11.

“It’s good to be busy,” Tudor said.

He also said that a holiday concert is “very much a community experience.”

This weekend, that community will include members of the audience who will join in the yuletide sing-along led by Santa Claus.

This weekend, the community will be “Home for the Holidays.”

If you go ...       

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

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16

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

COST: Tickets cost $25 for adults, $18 for students and $12 for ages 12 and younger.

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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