Howard County Concert Orchestra sounds new

Classical music organizations are tuning up for the new season, and one of them will do so under a new name. The Orchestra of St. John's has become the Howard County Concert Orchestra.

"We felt the need to break out and serve all of Howard County," said the orchestra's music director, Ronald Mutchnik. "It made sense at this time to expand our profile. We're officially a brand new organization."


Although most of its concerts still will be performed at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Mutchnik explained that the new name facilitates doing concerts at other venues in the area; and by calling it a concert orchestra rather than a chamber orchestra, it lets people know that the size of the ensemble will change depending on the nature of the musical event.

"We didn't want to limit ourselves to being a chamber orchestra. We don't want to limit ourselves in size or repertoire. We want to go between classics and contemporary, and we want to partner with different organizations," Mutchnik said.


Since Mutchnik founded the Orchestra of St. John's in 2008, there has been a core group of 20-some musicians that already stretched or shrank for various concerts. So, the new name essentially formalizes and expands upon what this group has been doing for the past five years.

And even though the new name no longer has a local church as part of it, St. John's Episcopal Church will remain the orchestra's principal location.

"St. John's is the best place for our typical-size orchestra, so most of our concerts will be there," Mutchnik said, adding that the group also "will float more" to additional venues.

As for the season ahead, Mutchnik's orchestra celebrates its new name with a special musical event that is being held at a private home in Howard County on Oct. 20. A limited number of tickets will be available to the public for this event featuring the Lyric Brass Quintet.

For its official subscription season, all three concerts are on Sundays at 4 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church.

The season opens with A Serenade of Flutes and Strings on Nov. 10. This debut concert presents works by Bach, Fauré, Delius and Holst.

Moving into the new year, there will be a Spanish New Year's Celebration on Jan. 12. Featured are works by composers including Turina, De Falla, Granados, Albéniz, Piazzola and Sarasate, as well as a video titled "The Best of Spain." Participating in this concert is the Howard County Ballet, directed by Kathi Ferguson.

The season closes with Magnificent Mozart on March 23. On the bill are Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, "Turkish," with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Jonathan Carney as soloist; and the same composer's Symphony No. 41 in C major, "Jupiter."


Mutchnik added that plans are being finalized for future events that will take his orchestra to schools, corporate sites and concert halls around Howard County.

Plans are being made for the orchestra to perform musical accompaniment for the film "Orchestra of Exiles" as part of a Jewish film series in Columbia in spring 2014.

And jumping ahead to 2015, Mutchnik says the orchestra is planning an ambitious concert to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. This program will recreate the concert that famed conductor Arturo Toscanini created for the Palestine Symphony Orchestra just after the war ended.

The Howard County Concert Orchestra performs its 2013-2014 season at St. John's Episcopal Church, 9120 Frederick Road, in Ellicott City. A season subscription for all three concerts is $60. Single tickets are $25, $12 for students 18-24 with ID, and free for those under 18 when accompanied by an adult. Call 410-461-7793, ext. 398, or go to