About a year ago, the Carroll County String Project, a nonprofit musical instruction program for youth, partnered with the independent living, assisted living and memory care communities at Brightview Westminster Ridge to bring classical music to the community with midday concerts on the third Thursday of each month.
This year, the Third Thursday Concert and Educational Series will continue with a new twist.
"Each month will focus on a different composer," said Brightview Westminster Ridge employee Sarah Schlenker. "There will be a brief history of the composer presented [by researcher and resident Ron Isemann] followed by a concert. A diverse group of composers will be represented throughout the year."
Musicians James Tung on violin, Alice Tung on viola, and Adam Gonzalez on cello will perform the music of Beethoven at noon on Thursday, Jan. 21. Trio Giocoso will be featured at noon on Thursday, Feb. 18 with cellist Gonzalez, violinist Nicholas Currie and pianist Diana Greene performing the music of Robert Schumann.
At noon on Thursday, March 17, Irish music and dance will be performed by violinist Bagus Wiswakarma and dancer Margaret Blubaugh. And at noon on Thursday, April 21, Mark Runkles will perform the music of Duke Ellington on saxophone and oboe.
The series is open to the public. A reception with coffee, refreshments, and an opportunity to meet and chat with the musicians is offered after each concert. Although each session is free, seats must be reserved in advance.
According to Kathryn Harsha, executive director of the Carroll County String Project, the project was founded by Peggy Ward about 8 years ago. The concert series was a way for her to stay involved with music in the community as she transitioned into retirement and life in the Brightview Westminster Ridge community, Harsha said.
"When I moved into the Brightview Senior Living complex, both the director of marketing and the activities director recognized that they had never before had a professional musician as a resident," Ward said. "They invited me to confer with them and give them ideas of ways I could contribute to the community of residents. At first, I just invited friends and students to come to Westminster Ridge and give little performances. I noticed that the residents had little or no appreciation for classical music and not much awareness of what was good and what was just catchy."
Ward said it wasn't long until she and the activities director decided to hold a series of monthly concerts that were also open to the public.
"I knew many very fine professional musicians who would welcome a chance to perform classical music to a live audience and accept even a minimal fee in return," Ward said, adding that coordinating the first year of concerts has been a good experience.
"It's a great fit for Brightview Westminster Ridge and the community as a whole," Harsha said of the monthly concerts. "I've played at a few of the events but I've also sat in the back as part of the audience. I can't tell you the number of times people have turned to say how fantastic the performers are. The reception of these first class quality musicians has been phenomenal."
Ward also said concert audiences have responded positively.
"We have an increasing interest from the surrounding community where word of mouth has let friends and neighbors know that these concerts were on par with anything found at McDaniel College or in Baltimore," Ward said. "The audience attendance has been growing and we have had standing room only for the last several months."
Harsha said it's important to bring professional musical performances to the residents, many of whom aren't able to attend such events at other venues.
"Not many [residents] are able to get to the Baltimore Symphony [Orchestra] anymore," Harsha said. "But this is such an accessible opportunity to hear extraordinary musicians in a welcoming atmosphere and with the intimacy of being able to speak to the performers afterward and get excited about their music. It is amazing to share this with people who might not be able to have access to quality music at this stage of their lives, and to see their reactions."
Brightview Westminster Ridge is at 505 High Acre Drive in Westminster.
For more information about the Third Thursday Concert Series or to reserve a seat, call Ruth Wyse at 410-871-2225.
Lady Lions seek players
The Finksburg Lady Lions, a fast-pitch softball group, is looking for girls ages 6 to 18 to play softball this spring.
According to Mat Tiahrt, commissioner for the Finksburg Lady Lions, the organization is affiliated with Finksburg Baseball and is part of Central Carroll Recreation Council. It is made up of teams of girls ages 6 to 18.
Teams with the Finksburg Lady Lions organization are sponsored by many local businesses. Tiahrt said they play recreation and travel fast-pitch softball. They practice and play games at Sandymount Park and Roaring Run Park, both in Finksburg, as well as on the road.
Tiahrt said the Finksburg Lady Lions is currently seeking girls for 2016 league play to compete in the Mason Dixon League and the Central Maryland League. They are also seeking a qualified coach to work with ages 10 and younger.
Community blood drive
Westminster United Methodist Church will hold a community blood drive inside the church's Jubilee Hall from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30.
Donors are asked to make an appointment. Walk-in donors will be accepted but there may be a wait.
"All donors will get a voucher for a free pound of Duncan Donuts coffee," said Michelle Olson, who coordinates the blood drive for the church.
If a donor needs someone to watch their children while they donate, they can call and arrangements will be made.
The church is at 165 E. Main St. in Westminster.
To make an appointment or for more information, call 410-857-9739.
Latest Carroll County News
Lois Szymanski covers Finksburg, Gamber, Pleasant Valley, Reese, Sandymount, Silver Run, Smallwood, Union Mills and Westminster. To contact her call 443-293-7800 or email email@example.com.