TO SING ON STAGE AT Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall has been a childhood fantasy for Jessica Marsh.
This weekend her dream will come true. Jessica, 12, will sing at the Meyerhoff accompanied by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She will be with about 30 fellow members of the Children's Chorus of Maryland, who are featured in a Holiday Pops concert that begins the BSO's holiday series.
"I joined the Children's Chorus for the fun of singing," Jessica said. "Singing is basically my life. It's what I want to do when I grow up."
She auditioned two years ago and was accepted in the intermediate level. Last year, the chorus opened the holiday season with a concert at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.
This year, the upper levels of the Children's Chorus will appear at the Meyerhoff. They will sing several holiday melodies, split into three or four harmonizing parts for children's voices.
The dream to appear with the BSO began when her grandmother introduced her to the orchestra by taking Jessica and her sister, Amanda, 8, to the monthly Saturday concert series for children. They attended concerts for seven years. Their sister, Laura, 3, will be introduced to the symphony with her sister on stage.
"I would listen to the flute. At a Christmas concert I saw the BSO Chorus perform, too. I said then, 'I'd like to sing in the choir,' and now I am. It's kinda cool," Jessica said.
Two members of the symphony she'd most like to meet are the flute player and a female violinist she has watched for years.
Jessica was a soloist at Pleasant Plains Elementary School, which she attended until the family moved to Hampstead about a year ago. Now she attends North Carroll Middle, but can't fit the school chorus around her academics.
She's been a soloist with the choir at Greenmount United Methodist Church, accompanied by Gary Grobaker. This winter she's working on another solo for the church, a John Denver song titled "Mary's Boy Child."
Tomorrow night is the Children's Chorus's first rehearsal with the symphony orchestra.
"I've never been backstage, behind the doors," Jessica said, with excitement. "I used to see all the dancers walking around behind there. On Friday night, my parents get to be concert parents -- they'll be backstage, to put us in order."
Her mother, Joan Marsh, recalls Jessica's early singing ability.
"She would sing the whole score to 'Mary Poppins' when she was 2," Joan said, adding her daughter would often sing "Stay Awake" to her father, Michael Marsh. "Singing is something she does well, it's what she wants to do."
The Children's Chorus of Maryland presents its winter concert at Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College at 4 p.m. Dec. 19. Leo Wanenchak is the director.
The gift of nature
If you're looking for a gift for someone who enjoys the outdoors, a membership donation to Pine Valley Nature Center would be a unique gesture. Gifts to the park's Friend of Pine Valley fund will help the all-volunteer stewardship of the diverse acres of parkland and nature center.
New projects are in the works. An arboretum, memorial walk and lily pond are planned for spring. The restoration of wildlife habitat is planned to encourage the return of upland wildlife -- the woodcock, quail, ring-necked pheasant, mink and skunk familiar in our area years ago.
At the park, continuing projects need funding, too. The pond at Walnut Street is to be restocked with pan fish. The beautiful woodland and meadow trails need maintenance. Habitat planting will continue.
Any donation is welcome and is tax-deductible. To make donations, write Manchester Parks Foundation, Box 864, Manchester 21102.
Blood donation sites
Donating blood during the holiday season is easier if you register for a donation time.
Two American Red Cross community drives are planned for convenience of donors. Both drives occur from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Register to donate Dec. 28 at Hampstead Fire Hall on Main Street or Dec. 29 at St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church, Park Street, Manchester.
Information: Terri Leatherwood, 410-374-9791.
Winery open house
Basignani Winery will hold its holiday Open House from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Wine tasting, cider, cheese, cookies, bread and gift baskets will be available. Cost is $2 per car. The winery is at 15722 Falls Road. Information: 410-472-0703.
Pat Brodowski's North Carroll neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 12/02/98