Columbia Orchestra has strong season finale planned

Anrew Kwon
Anrew Kwon(Submitted photo by James Ferry)

When the Columbia Orchestra concludes its 35th season on Saturday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m., in the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, it will not go out quietly.

"I wanted to go out with a bang," said Columbia Orchestra Music Director Jason Love about the ambitious program he has planned. He added that the three main pieces on the program "all deal with struggle and rebirth."


All of that struggle and rebirth warrant considerable orchestral forces, so the Columbia Orchestra will be joined by an additional 15 to 20 players for this performance. That will add up to nearly 100 musicians on stage.

Many of these musicians also will be on stage to accompany three competition-winning Howard County music students who will be playing shorter selections.

Among the main pieces, the Columbia Orchestra marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of 19th-century composer Richard Wagner, who was born May 22, 1813, by playing "Siegfried's Funeral March."

Just as Wagner benefits from being played by a very full ensemble, the second main piece on the program, 20th-century Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Ballet," also benefits from having enough musicians to deliver its energetic outbursts; the orchestra will play selections from Stravinsky's score.

And the 21st century is represented by the third main piece, contemporary Chinese-American composer Chen Yi's "Mount a Long Wind." Love explained that he had read about this piece when it was done in China several years ago and is an admirer of her music, but had not realized he would be giving the piece its American premiere when he booked it.

Besides those three pieces, shorter pieces will be played by the three winners of the Columbia Orchestra Young Artist Competition. These young musicians also receive scholarship checks from the Shirley Mullinix Memorial Fund.

"What's very striking is that the three students all have phenomenal technique, and also a musical maturity that's superb," Love observed. "They're not at all shy or nervous playing with an orchestra. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn't guess these are high school students."

Winner of the competition's Junior Division, violinist Jeremy Hess, 13, will be heard in the first movement of Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole."


Hess is a home-schooled student from West Friendship. He's a member of the Peabody String Academy Pre-College Violin Program and the Peabody Youth Orchestra, and studies there with Rebecca Henry. First-place winner in each of the last three years from the Maryland State Music Teachers' Association, Hess has played at the Kennedy Center and the Walters Art Museum.

A winner in the Senior Division, Lisa Choi is a 15-year-old flute player who will perform the first movement of the Mozart Flute Concerto No. 2. She is a freshman at Centennial High School.

Choi studies with Rachel Choe at Peabody Prep, and is principal flutist with the Howard County Gifted and Talented band. Among her other orchestral memberships are the Peabody Youth Orchestra, Maryland All-State Junior Band and Bonnie Branch Trio. She has played in other cities including New York and Philadelphia.

Another winner in the Senior Division, violinist Andrew Kwon, will play Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen."

Kwon, 18, who graduated from Centennial last week, began his studies in his native Korea, came to the United States in 2000 and moved to Maryland in 2007. Among his orchestral memberships is the Maryland All-State Orchestra, Washington Symphony Youth Orchestra (of which he is concertmaster), and the Howard County Gifted and Talented Orchestra. He is a member of the Peabody Pre-Conservatory Violin program, and studies with Peabody faculty member Herbert Greenberg.

The Columbia Orchestra performs Saturday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m., in the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, in Columbia. Tickets are $20-$25, $16-$21 for seniors, $10-$12 for students. Also, Howard Community College faculty member Bill Scanlan Murphy gives a free lecture at 6:30 p.m. Call 410-465-8777 or go to http://www.columbiaorchestra.org.