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Travel to France with Howard County Concert Orchestra

It may be a cold winter day in Howard County, but on Jan. 15, the Howard County Concert Orchestra hopes to transport its audience to France with its performance titled "A Festival of French Favorites." Featuring music by French composers, dancing and readings, the concert continues the group's tradition of recognizing an exotic locale for its second performance in its concert series.

"We try to do something that we think will be interesting to the public," said Ronald Mutchnik, conductor. "We've done Africa, Vienna. It's high time we do France."

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Mutchnik knows firsthand the attractions of France as he visited the country for three weeks last year. Many of the photos featured in a video during the performance were taken during his trip along the Rivera to the Pyrenees.

"Not everyone can take this type of trip," Mutchnik said, so he designed the program to feature both classic French symbols, such as the cancan dance performed by dancers from Dance Connection Inc., to lesser-known pieces like French lullabies.

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"Some of the music is very French and everybody will know it," Mutchnik said. "There will be ballet, opera and waltzes. It is all part of the exposure to different cultures."

The lobby of the Howard Arts Council was buzzing with activity Jan. 5 as artists from all parts of the county stopped by to submit a piece of their artwork to be included in the Arts Council's upcoming HoCo Open exhibit.

The music of Bizet, Debussy, Gounod, Offenbach and others will be performed by the group's chamber orchestra, an all-string group.

"There will be 19 people on the stage," Mutchnik said. "We've had as few as 15 to as many as 40."

Jonathan Palevsky from WBJC-FM, will act as narrator for the event.

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"John always has interesting, fun facts and human-interest stories," Mutchnik said. "It helps people be more interested in the music and what's behind it."

Denee Barr, a local performer from Columbia, will sing a French cabaret-style piece.

The evening will conclude with a dessert reception featuring the French treat of bonbons.

"People do seem to enjoy this particular concert," Mutchnik said. "I think this one is the best attended."

The Festival of French Favorites is the second in the group's 2016-2017 concert series. The first concert was last October and featured music by Mozart. The third and final concert in the series will be on May 21 and is titled "Splendid Sonority-Organ, Trumpet and Strings."

While the possibility of snow is always a threat, the group will continue to set its second concert in January.

"After all the festivities, people are beginning to feel the winter doldrums," Mutchnik said. "This is a pick-me-up and extends the holiday season a little bit."

'A Festival of French Favorites" will be held on Jan. 15, at 7 p.m., at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3604 Chatham Road, Ellicott City. Tickets are $25; $12 for students ages 18 to 24 with ID; and free for ages under 18 with purchase of one adult ticket. For more information go to www.hococo.org or call 888-921-7230.



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