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Ellicott City celebrates Spanish New Year

The Howard County Concert Orchestra mixed music, dance and media Sunday in a "Spanish New Year's Celebration" at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

With a video titled "The Best of Spain" projecting evocotive images in the room, and six costumed dancers from the Howard County Ballet performing, the orchestra launched into music by the likes of Sarasate, Turina, Granados and De Falla to the delight of Howard County Concert Orchestra music director Ronald Mutchnik, who said the crowd was twice the number that attended the first concert of the season.

"There were nice touches," Mutchnik said, "with the dancers dressed in Spanish costumes. I, myself, wore Spanish hats. People in the orchestra had a touch of color, instead of the usual black they wear."

Master of Ceremonies Dick Story regaled the audience with stories of Spain, the musical selection and the composers' lives. Young featured soloists Emily Park, of Columbia, and Sean Lim earned a standing ovation for their duet for two violins with orchestra called "Navarra" by Pablo de Sarasate, a 19th-century violinist and composer.

When the evening ended, the audience were treated to a surprise of little Spanish chocolates as they walked out the door.

Mutchnik couldn't have been more pleased.

"I think the best thing I can say is somebody who lives in Spain came up to us after the show and said, 'You did Spain proud,'" he said.

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