Budget constraints lead Howard County Concert Orchestra to rename and refocus

For Howard County Times

When Wayne L. Wold gives an organ recital at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, he will be the only performer for most of the program.

Although this concert is being presented by the Howard County Concert Orchestra, the orchestra itself does not appear on the program.

Such presentations will become even more common in upcoming seasons, as the orchestra makes changes in its programs and, indeed, its very name.

“The orchestra’s name has changed to Howard County Concert Odysseys,” said its music director, Ronald Mutchnik. “It’s a budgetary decision. The finances being what they are, the board decided to continue it without it being tied only to orchestra concerts. There will be at least one orchestra concert each year. The idea is to have different kinds of music from different areas of the world.”

Looking ahead to next season, Mutchnik said that the renamed orchestra will perform its annual New Year's-oriented concert in January 2020. It will also serve as the presenting organization for two additional concerts: the Peabody Ragtime Ensemble in fall 2019 and the Theodicy Jazz Collective in spring 2020.

This is not the first name change for the organization. Mutchnik founded the Orchestra of St. John’s in 2008, and it changed its name to the Howard County Concert Orchestra in 2013.

Whether playing as an orchestra or presenting other musicians, the organization has been an important player in the Howard County classical music scene. In that respect, Wold’s upcoming organ recital promises to deliver beautiful sounds in a sacred space.

Wold is the director of music and organist at First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City. He is also a music professor, college organist and chair of the music department at Hood College in Frederick; and he is a composer with more than 300 published works.

Discussing the selections he will play in his recital at St. John’s Episcopal Church this Sunday, Wold said: “My program covers a span of six centuries, from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The program will open with two short works by Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. J.S. Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor follows; most everyone recognizes the opening section, but the remainder of the toccata and the fugue may be less known.”

Joining Wold for a portion of the recital is local violist Robin Fay Massie, who is principal violist for Mutchnik’s orchestra. She is also assistant principal viola with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra in Wilmington and co-principal viola with the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra in Philadelphia. She also has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.

“For the next selection I will be joined by Robin Massie, and the two of us will perform a work by Baroque composer G.F. Telemann,” Wold said.

“Following intermission, I will play a short festive piece by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, sister of Felix, but a renowned musician in her own right. Continuing in the Romantic era but moving over to the French style, I will then play Cesar Franck’s Choral in A Minor, one of the great masterworks of organ literature.

“Then Robin Massie will join me again to perform a prelude by 20th-century English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Closing out the program will be a composition by me, Processional and Trumpet Tune on the Welsh tune ‘Cwm Rhondda.’ ”

Asked about his thematic goal in putting together this recital, Wold explained, “In assembling this program, I wanted to make sure the repertoire showed off the many colors of the organ at St. John’s, represented both male and female composers, and showed how musical styles vary from one era to another and from one national style to another.”

As an organist who has given numerous recitals over the years, Wold is familiar with what Howard County has to offer for those in his profession.

“It is worth noting that two fine pipe organs are found only a short block away from each other,” he observed. “The two organs are similar in size and both are fine instruments for recital and liturgical use. The organ at St. John’s is perhaps better suited for Romantic-era music and the organ at First Lutheran is more Baroque in its concept, but both are excellent and versatile instruments.”

Wayne L. Wold gives an organ recital at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 9130 Frederick Road in Ellicott City. Tickets are $25, $12 for students ages 18-24 with ID, free to children 17 and younger when accompanied by a paying adult. Call 888-921-7230 or go to hococo.org.

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