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Sheldon Bair, Founder and Music Director


Widow of late Ernst Bacon blogs about SSO’s recent performance

In a recent blog post, Ellen Bacon said of SSO’s Reflections on the Civil War performance of her late husband’s work,

“It was exciting for me to see a live performance of “Ford’s Theatre” 
for the first time – if not in person, at least on cable. I thought 
the SSO did a remarkable job in learning this 20 minute chunk of new 
music – not new insofar as it was composed in the late 1940s, but 
unfamiliar to most present-day musicians. I’m sure Ernst would have 
been very pleased with this “ernst” and evocative performance.

A VERY BIG thank-you to Sheldon for including this piece on the program!”

SSO’s performance of Ford’s Theater can be seen HERE.


Reflections on the Civil War – May 4, 2013

If you missed our May 4th Civil War themed concert, here’s your chance to watch and listen! Click the link below to view the entire concert, recorded by the Harford Cable Network.

Reflections on the Civil War

Reflections on the Civil War – An Anniversary Concert

Saturday, May 4, 2013  at 7:30PM

Jerry Bilik – American Civil War Fantasy
Kermit Poling – No Sound of Trumpet nor Roll of Drum
Jay Ungar / arr. Custer – Ashokan Farewell
Ernst Bacon  – Ford’s Theatre (selections)
Aaron Copland  –  Lincoln Portrait


May 2013 Concert Poster

This concert is the annual “side-by-side” concert with Harford County’s finest high school student musicians.  This July will mark the (more…)

Harford Youth Orchestra and Harford String Orchestra Concert

HYO Concert

Coming up on April 20th at Harford Community College!

Alexis Lee and The Susquehanna Symphony perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto

Here is a clip from our concert on Saturday, March 9th!  It was a great night!


SSO in The Aegis

Check out this article on Be-Knighted Masterworks as reported in The Aegis!

Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra ‘Be-knighted Masterworks’ Concert is March 9


Announcing our March 9th Pre-Concert Lecture!

SSO is pleased to announce there will be a pre-concert lecture by Dr. Matt Perry, entitled, “The Way We Hear Music — An Audiologist’s Perspective” prior to the start of the March 9th Be-Knighted Masterworks concert.  The lecture will begin at 6:45 and will be held in the auditorium of Bel Air High School.


Dr. Matt Perry is a licensed audiologist and local musician.  A former music performance major turned hearing scientist, he offers a unique perspective when it comes to the role our ears play in listening to and enjoying music.  When he isnot treating patients with hearing loss, Dr. Perry can sometimes be seen performinglocally.  He sings tenor in the local a cappella group “Bonus Track”, and recently played the role of Joseph in Phoenix Festival Theater’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Dr. Perry is the owner of Harmony Hearing & Audiology, an innovative audiology and hearing aid practice, located in Festival at Bel Air.  Inquires and appointment requests can be made through HarmonyHearing.com or by calling 410-569-5999.



Here at SSO we believe music is something everyone deserves to enjoy.  Check out this teaser from the upcoming documentary Landfillharmonic, the inspiring story of The Recycled Orchestra.

In Cateura, an impoverished town in Paraguay, trash from the local landfill is being recycled into musical instruments in order to bring music to the lives of the city’s youth. 

This is a truly uplifting tale that just goes to show…

You can’t stop the music! 

Landfill Harmonic movie teaser from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.


Be-Knighted Masterworks



Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 7:30PM

Bel Air HighSchool –  Bel Air, MD

Sir Hamilton Harty – The Londonderry Air
Sir Malcom Arnold – Symphony No. 5, Op. 74
Sir William Walton – Touch Her Soft Lips and Part from “Henry V”
Sir Edward Elgar – Cello Concerto (Alexis Lee)

March Concert Poster

Mozart and Tchaikovsky – Jazzed Up for the Holidays!

Saturday, December 8, 2012  at 7:30PM              Sheldon Bair, Conducting

Korngold – The Snowman Overture (Conductor: Brian Folus)
W.A. Mozart – Sleigh Ride
W.A. Mozart – Bassoon concerto in B-Flat Major, K. 191 (bassoon: Phillip Kolker)
Tchaikovsky / arr. Bair  – December from “The Seasons”
Tchaikovsky  –  Russian Dance (Trepak) from “The Nutcracker”
Tchaikovsky / arr. Duke Ellington  – Nutcracker Suite
arr. Folus  –  A Hanukah Celebration (Conductor: Brian Folus)
arr. Bair  – Christmas Sing Along


Condo Raffle

The SSO’s Fundraiser Raffle, a week at a resort condo generously donated by the Ruth family, has become an annual tradition.  Funds raised support the operating budget.  Tickets will be available at concerts through March and from orchestra members.  The drawing will be at intermission at the March concert and you need not be present to win.

  • Barrier Island Station at Kitty Hawk, NC
  • Sunday July 28th – Sunday August 4th, 2013
  • 2 BR, Sleeps 6, Full Kitchen
  • $5 each ticket or 5 for  $20
  • Drawing to be held at March 9 concert
  • MarchCondoRafflePoster

“The SSO vacation in Nagshead, NC, was the best vacation that my husband and I had in our 40+ years of marriage.  Believe it or not we were not ‘beach bums’ but we are now.  God’s beauty can’t be beat!  How to win?  Buy lots of tickets for your family and they will be stunned when they win.  My husband thought he won a basket of cheer when it was really a glorious vacation.”  – Bill and Barb Hill – winners 2011

CMAP Partners with SSO at GiveCamp2012

The SSO & CMAP PARTNER IN THE SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY, CONNECTION AND CHARITY for the second annual Baltimore GiveCamp at UMBC, October 19-21, 2012. 

This was a weekend-long event where analysts, software developers, designers, database administrators, project managers and general volunteers donate their time, talents and services to build technical solutions that solve real world problems for local non-profit organizations. Since its inception in 2007, the National GiveCamp program has provided benefits to over 150 charities, with a value of developer and designer time exceeding $1,000,000 in services!  In 2011, the first annual Baltimore GiveCamp partnered with over 20 local non-profits donating services worth more than $250,000.00.  GaveCamp 2012 beneftied 28 Baltimore non-profits.  The SSO received an upgrade and refinements to its website, facebook, and internal infrastructure to help it stay organized. 

Central Maryland Association of .NET Professionals (CMAP) is a user group based in Maryland that focuses on learning and discussing Microsoft .NET technologies. Membership is free and open to experts and beginners alike!  With CMAP driving the annual Baltimore GiveCamp, Charity Miracles Are Possible! 

For more information about the Baltimore GiveCamp, please visit http://www.cmap-online.org/events/Give%20Camp/Default.aspx

A Night in Old Vienna

Saturday, October 6, 2012  at 7:30PM;         Bel Air High School

Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op, 68 “Pastorale”
Brahms – Tragic Overture, Op. 81
J. Strauss, Jr. – Du und Du Waltz from “Die Fledermaus”
J. Strauss, Sr. – Radetzky March

This concert, dedicated to Old Vienna and its wonderful composers, was prefaced with remarks by Principle French horn player Bruce Kovacs’ description of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, The Pastoral.  “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one symphony, this would be the one!”  As Maestro Bair and the orchestra re-traced Beethoven’s symphonic footsteps through the Vienna countryside, it became evident that many in the audience thoroughly agreed with Kovacs’ sentiments.  Beethoven created in this master work a range of melodies and dynamic interplay of instruments that has rarely been equaled by anyone past or present; which likely accounted for the wonderful reception it received from the audience.

Following a brief intermission, Maestro Bair led the orchestra in Brahms’s Tragic Overture, OP81.  Premiered in 1880 in Vienna, Brahms’s principle goal with the work was to convey to and elicit from its listeners emotional impressions, which in this respect, he was most successful.  Maestro Bair’s interpretation of this most turbulent work was quite profound as he artfully mixed tempo and dynamic changes into a memorable performance.

For the concert conclusion, and in keeping with the “Old Vienna” theme, there of course had to be Strauss.  Maestro Bair treated the audience to two fine examples of Strauss compositions , one each from  Junior and Senior, as the orchestra performed The Du and Du Waltz (Strauss the younger) and the unofficial anthem of Vienna and Austria, the Radetzky March (Strauss the elder).  Both were warmly received by the audience, and the Radetzky march was, of course, accompanied by audience hand clapping and  overall delight.

Announcing our 36th Season:


October 6, 2012 – A Night in Old Vienna – Settle in for an evening delight of classics with Beethoven’s Pastorale & Brahms’ Tragic Overture.  The Open Door Cafe returns to treat us with culinary delights at intermission.  Then kick-up your heels after intermission: get up, get on your feet, and waltz to the strains of the waltz kings Strauss Jr. and Sr. – “Andre Reiu” style.

December 8, 2012 –  Mozart & Tchaikovsky Jazzed Up! for the Holidays.   Phillip Kolker joins the SSO to play bassoon, not often heard as a solo instrument and a real treat in Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major.  Then hear Tchaikovsky infused with Jazz as only Duke Ellington could and other special treats.  The concert ends with a sing-along.  Many Harford County families make this concert a tradition to kick-off the holiday season.  Get your tickets early as this may sell out.

March 9, 2013 – Be-Knighted Masterworks – Knighted for their exemplary contributions to the British realm, four works by four knighted composers are the focus of this royal presentation.  Tour the kingdom and history with compositions of Sir Hamilton Harty, Sir Malcom Arnold, Sir William Walton, and Sir Edward Elgar.  Harford County alum Alexis Lee returns to play Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

May 4, 2103 – Reflections on the Civil War –  The SSO and the Harford County Historical Society jointly bring you a civil war experience in costume, images, and music for this historical themed concert featuring  Jerry Bilik’s American Civil War Fantasy and Kermit Poling’s No Sound of Trumpet nor Roll of Drum and Jerry Bilik’s American Civil War Fantasy.  Jonathan Palevski and others bring the images to life with their stirring narrations accompanied by the SSO.

Grateful for the Grateful Dead


Breaking with tradition, the SSO dressed in psychedelic garb for Lee Johnson’s orchestration of nine songs by the ever popular Grateful Dead.  And what a concert it was.  The work was introduced by the string principles playing in a solitary quartet while the remainder of the orchestra ambled on to the stage until the full orchestra was assembled.   With the completion of the quartet movement, Concert Master Wendy Bohdel led the orchestra into Funiculi Funicula, the opening tune used by The Dead to warm up.  At that point Music Director and Conductor Sheldon Bair made his appearance and took over the conducting reins as he walked and sometimes ran the orchestra through 6 other arrangements by Lee Johnson of the Dead’s best known works.  The visual effect of “hippie” dress and the wonderful arrangements by Lee Johnson enthralled the audience for the entire first half of the concert.  Ending the “Dead” concert, the orchestra reprised Funiculi Funicula to a standing ovation by the audience and the applause of the composer, Lee Johnson.  As this was the SSO’s annual side-by-side concert with 22 All-County Orchestra students, we were  pleased to be able to share our psychedelic side with a new generation.

Directly after intermission, a chamber orchestra configuration of the SSO accompanied soloist and Harford County resident Emma Zyriek in two Arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.   Emma’s performance and stage presence was absolutely stunning in her portrayal of Donna Anna, described by Mozart himself as a “saucy girl”.  Upon completion of the works, she was greeted with rousing applause and a bouquet of tie-dyed roses.

As the orchestra reconfigured to its full size, Maestro Bair took a moment to recognize the departure of long term member Anthony Belcastro.  “Tony” played with the orchestra for over twenty years, and served as President of the Board of Directors for 12.  Tony made his way back to his seat with the violin section to the applause of the audience and the orchestra.  As Tchaikovsky was a great fan of Mozart’s work, Maestro Bair then  led the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s  “Mozartina”, which was immediately followed by the 1812 Overture.   As is the custom of the orchestra, the church bells were “played” by hammering on tank wrenches graciously provided by Aberdeen Proving Ground.  While somewhat of an unorthodox instrument, the tank wrenches are virtually indistinguishable when sounding (and a lot easier to move) than real church bells.  Cannons fired, bells rung, musicians played feverishly, and streamers flew much to the delight of the audience, concluding the SSO’s 35th season.



Great reasons why you should support a community orchestra.  (more…)

Harford County on the Map

In October 2011, SSO Music Director Sheldon Bair was invited to speak at the 6th annual Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northampton, U.K.  The invitation came over a year earlier due to the fact that Bair had conducted the U.S. premiere of Arnold’s 9th (and last) Symphony in Bel Air in March 2000.  On the 90th Anniversary of Arnold’s birth, Bair was given the honor of laying a wreath at the bust of Sir Malcolm Arnold in the lobby of the Northampton Concert Hall where the festival was being held.  Also during the trip, Bair met with Tony masters, a retired high school band director who had brought his school band to Bel Air on two occasions.  There may be future collaborations with the SSO and the local youth orchestras from England.   Bair also met with English conductor Andrew Penny who conducted the Naxos label’s CD set of all nine Arnold symphonies.  Maestro Bair’s travels connect the SSO to points all over the world and are one of the reasons why this all-volunteer community orchestra is of such an amazing value to Harford County.

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