The Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered by many to be the turning point of the Civil War, with a concert packed full of popular and dramatic music.
"Reflections on the Civil War: An Anniversary Concert" is also a side-by-side concert, featuring some of Harford County's finest high school student musicians. Under the baton of SSO founder and director, Sheldon Bair, it promises to be a fine evening of quality entertainment.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Bel Air High School at 100 Heighe St. Tickets – at $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students - can be bought at Preston's, Music Land, Music & Arts and Harford Pharmacy, all in Bel Air, or at the door. At 6:45 p.m., Dr. James Karmel, professor of history at Harford Community College, will present a pre-concert lecture on Civil War music, including instruments, popular music for north and south, slaves and newly-freed African Americans. He was recently the project scholar for a "Let's Talk About It" community reading and discussion series on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War held at HCC.
The concert opens with Jerry Bilik's "A Civil War Fantasy," a medley of popular music from both north and south in the mid-1800s. Southern composer Kermit Poling's touching "No Sound of Trumpet nor Roll of Drum" follows, with two narrators reading parts of speeches and letters written by soldiers in the conflict. Chuck Bowden, English and drama teacher at Bel Air High School and executive director of the Bel Air Drama Company, and Danielle Willard, a former SSO cellist who is working on a law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law, do the narrating honors.
Also on the program is Jay Unger's memorable "Ashokan Farewell" for violin solo and string orchestra. Fans of Ken Burn's series, "The Civil War," will recall the haunting Celtic style theme melody. The orchestra will perform several movements from Ernst Bacon's "Ford's Theater," which is based on the week of Lincoln's assassination by Harford County native, John Wilkes Booth.
Aaron Copland's popular "Lincoln Portrait" ends the concert. Jonathan Palevsky, program director at WBJC-FM, Baltimore's classical music station, will narrate.
Coming Sunday, June 2, at 7 p.m. is one more chance to hear the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra perform - and for free - as part of the Bel Air Summer Concert Series. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket to the William A. Humbert Amphitheater in Shamrock Park (beside the library and behind the police station) on the corner of Hickory Avenue and Lee Street in Bel Air. In case of inclement weather, call 410-803-9784 for an alternate site.