2017-18 Season

41st Season – A Season of Spirituality

The 41st season is sub-titled Season of Spirituality due to the many spiritual works included in the repertoire.

Listed are the five concerts in the SSO concert series. Concerts #1, 2, 3, and 4 are available as a subscription series. Concert #5 is a free concert presented al fresco.

Concert #3 | March 10, 2018 at 7:30PM | Bel Air High School

Pre-concert lecture at 6:45pm

Composer James Lee III and the violinist Emmanuel Borowsky, will be available prior to the concert starting at 6:45pm for a brief lecture.

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Emmanuel Borowsky – Violin

  • James Lee III – “Yoshiyahu”, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Orchestra with Emmanuel Borowsky, premiere
  • Rimsky-Korsakov – Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 1

Composer James Lee III, who lives in Edgewood and teaches at Morgan State University, contacted Maestro Bair last December with the idea of writing a violin concerto for a fine soloist and the SSO, a community orchestra.  James is used to writing for the Baltimore Symphony and other professional orchestras, including fine ensembles in Brazil.  This particular composition would be a bit different for him!  James has created a fine concerto entitled “’Yoshiyahu’, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Orchestra”.  This work will last almost 30 minutes, is in four movements, and will loosely follow King Josiah from the Old Testament of the Bible.  The title of the concert, “Sound the Shofar” comes from the third movement of this work, in which the brass are asked to produce the sound of the shofar, an Israeli horn-like instrument made from the horn of a ram.  Baltimore violinist, Emmanuel Borowsky, will be our soloist in this, the premiere of James Lee III’s new work!  Emmanuel performed with the SSO years ago when he was just a lad!

Rimsky-Korsakov’s First Symphony was begun when the young composer and sailor was just 18 years old.   He revised and finished it when he was 40 years old, changing the original key from E-flat Minor to E Minor, which is much easier to play for most orchestra members!  The four-movement work is very melodic and audience members will find much to enjoy in this Russian piece!

Concert #4 |May 5, 2018 at 7:30PM | Bel Air High School

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Carolyn Black-Sotir – Soprano

  • Sheldon Bair – This We’ll Defend
  • Benny Russell – A Man of Peace, premiere
  • Raymond Horton – Make Gentle the Life of This World – awarded a Special Judge’s Citation, recognizing Unique Artistic Achievement, by The 2012 American Prize in Composition: Orchestra Division (Professional). Thi​​s composition is presented in part by the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and​ ​the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 
  • Gwyneth Walker – The Promised Land (based on spirituals) with Carolyn Black-Sotir, soprano – This piece is made possible by a grant from the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy
  • Nancy Bloomer Deussen – Regalos
  • Duke Ellington – Caravan

The SSO’s last concert of its subscription season is entitled “American Remembrance”.   This is our annual side-by-side concert at which talented local youth from the All-County Orchestra join the ranks of the orchestra for the concert.  Harford Youth Orchestra conductor Brian Folus will begin the concert with Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.  This will be followed by two works, which commemorate the 50thanniversary of the assassinations of Marin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.  Local composer and jazz artist Benny Russell is composing a work for the SSO entitled “A Man of Peace”.  This will be followed by Raymond Horton’s “Make Gentle the Life of this World” which uses the audio from the actual speech Bobby Kennedy gave in Indianapolis on the evening of the assassination of MLK, Jr.   The SSO performed this work several years ago and the audience was quite moved by the experience.

After intermission, Sheldon Bair’s own “This We’ll Defend”, based on popular Army tunes and written for the 100th anniversary of Aberdeen Proving Ground, will be performed once again.  “This We’ll Defend” was well received at the SSO’s June 2017 outdoor concert!

Connecticut composer, and SSO favorite, Gwyneth Walker has orchestrated and arranged a suite of four spirituals entitled “The Promised Land” for soprano and orchestra.  Long time SSO soloist and friend-of-the-orchestra Carolyn Black-Sotir will join us for this performance, which is sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

The May concert will end with a rousing and fun-filled performance of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”, filled with hope and goodwill!


Concert #5 Free Bel Air Summer Concert Series

June 3, 2018 at 7:00PM | Humbert Memorial Band Shell 

Kickoff the summer with this annual Bel Air Outdoor Summer Concert event. Bring a picnic and blanket and join the SSO for some tunes under the trees.

  • SSB
  • Humbert Scholarship Winner
  • Sousa – a march TBA
  • Handel/arr. Harty – Water Music (Suite for Orchestra – Selections)
  • Kile Smith – Susquehanna, An Overture for Orchestra
  • arr. Raff – Crescent City Suite
  • Duke Ellington  – Caravan
  • Sheldon Bair – This We’ll Defend
  • Gershwin –Embraceable You
  • Williams – Star Wars Throne Room and Finale
  • Reed – Greensleeves
  • Bernstein – WSS medley
  • Deussen – Regalos

Concert #1 |October 14, 2017 at 7:30PM | Bel Air High School

Sheldon Bair – Conductor

  • Handel/arr. Harty – Water Music (Suite for Orchestra)
  • Kile Smith – Susquehanna, An Overture for Orchestra
  • Sir Malcolm Arnold – Water Music, Op. 82b
  • Amanda Harberg – Elegy – This piece is made possible in part by a grant from the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy
  • Schumann – Manfred Overture, Op. 115
  • Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation:
    • Mendelssohn – ‘He Watching Over Israel’ Chorus from “Elijah”
    • Handel/ed. Mozart – ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus from “Messiah” with guest choirs

The first concert of our 41st season, sub-titled “A Story Runs Through It” begins with three works about water.  “A River Runs Through It” is a more apt title for the first half of our concert!   Handel’s famous Baroque period “Water Music” Suite in the somewhat romanticized orchestration by Hamilton Hardy, begins the concert, while Sir Malcolm Arnold’s three-movement “Water Music” suite will be performed prior to intermission.  Between the two Water Music works the SSO will once again perform Kile Smith’s “Susquehanna”!  This work was a 40th Season SSO commission which the orchestra premiered last March and also performed at its June outdoor concert.  “Susquehanna” has been much loved by both audience and musicians alike!

The 2nd half of the concert will feature music with a story.  Amanda Harberg’s “Elegy” was written in memory of a mutual loved one.   We performed the same work in its Viola Solo with String Orchestra version a few years ago.  Schumann’s favorite “Manfred Overture” is based on a story by Lord Byron, and then the orchestra will be joined by choruses to perform two works by Lutheran composers: Mendelssohn’s “He Watching Over Israel” from Elijah, and Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Messiah, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 

This concert certainly has something for everyone!

Concert #2 | December 2, 2017 at 7:30PM | Bel Air High School


Sheldon Bair, Conductor
Douglas M. Beach, Guest Conductor
Gary Helton, narrator

  • Delvyn Case – Rocket Sleigh
  • Tchaikovsky/arr. Bair – December (Christmas) from “The Seasons”
  • Liadov – Eight Russian Folk Songs, Op. 58 (Selections)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov – Polonaise from “Christmas Eve Suite”, with conductor, Douglas M. Beach
  • Alfred Reed – Greensleeves (What Child is This?)
  • Daniel Dorff – Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with narrator, Gary Helton
  • arr. Donald Raff – Christmas Lullabies
  • Daniel Dorff – Pachelbel’s Christmas
  • arr. Bair – Christmas Sing-Along #3

As tradition has it, our Holiday Concert, sub-titled “Fun Holidays of Sleigh Rides and Bears”, contains a wide variety of Holiday music which will be fun for the entire family!  The concert will include a number of holiday works by Russian composers including Liadov, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky!  Living composers Delvyn Case, whose fun-filled “Rocket Sleigh” will open the concert, and Philly composer Daniel Dorff will both be featured.    The SSO will return to Danny’s “Pachelbel’s  Christmas” which we performed a couple of years ago and which includes 44 different holiday tunes  arranged on top of one another within five minutes!  What fun!  Also, Danny orchestrated “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” for the SSO years ago.  WHFC-HCC’s own Gary Helton will be doing the narrating for this fun romp!  And Bair’s own arrangements of the beautiful “Wexford Carol” and a new-ish “Christmas Sing Along” rounds out the fun.  And don’t forget Sleigh Ride!