2019-20 Season

Listed are the five concerts in the SSO concert series. Concerts #1, 2, 3, and 4 are available as a subscription series and are performed at Bel Air High School. Concert #5 is a free concert presented al fresco at the Humbert Memorial Band Shell.

As of July 15, 2019 – All dates are confirmed!

For the SSO’s 43rd Season, Germany at a Crossroads, the orchestra and its audience will explore reasons that the town of Leipzig, Germany, was such an important hometown for musicians, and an important destination for traveling musicians.  From our season, the following composers visited or lived in Leipzig in the 18th or 19th century: Elgar, Mozart, Grieg, Dvorak, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky!

Concert #1

Pre-concert lecture to begin at 6:45 pm.

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Yonatan Dvir – Guest Conductor
Frances Borowsky – Cellist

  • Brahms – Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
  • Wagner – Siegfried Idyll
  • Mendelssohn – Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’ Dream”
  • Grieg – Symphonic Dance No. 3
  • Schumann – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in A Minor, with soloist Frances Borowsky

The SSO’s first concert of the season will explore the music of five composers who were influenced by the music culture in Leipzig, Germany. Although Vienna is often considered the capital of music in the 19th Century, Leipzig holds a special place int he music and influences in the middle of that century.

The concert will begin with Brahms’ fun-filled “Academic Festival Overture” which was written by Brahms as a token of his gratitude for being bestowed an honorary doctorate in philosohpy from the University of Breslau. The work ends with Brahms’ setting of the tune “Gaudeamus Igitur” (“So Let Us Rejoice”) which is known as both a serious university song and a beer-drinking song! The concert will continue with Wagner’s lovely “Siegfried Idyll” for small orchestra, written for the birth of Richard and Cosima’s son, Siegfried, and first performed Christmas morning, 1870. Mendelssohn’s well-known “Wedding March” from his incidental music to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will begin the concert’s second half. This is the work that is often heard as the recessional at weddings. The concert will continue with Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg’s lively  Third Symphonic Dance. Grieg was among the composers who visited and worked in Leipzig.

The concert will conclude with Schumann’s wonderfully romantic Cello Concerto with soloist and Baltimore native, Frances Borowsky. A reviewer in Germany wrote the following about Frances: Oozing overall confidence and with sovereignty, she played with a superbly juicy tone, rich in resonance, with a dance-like swing and full of spirit – Heidelberg Rhein-Neckar Zeitung, Germany.

Isralei conductor, Yonatan Dvir, will conduct half of this season’s opening concert.

Concert #2

Pre-concert lecture to begin at 6:45 pm.

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Brian Folus – Guest Conductor

  • Bizet – March of the Kings (Farandole from ‘l’Arlesienne Suite No. 2’)
  • Grainger – Sussex Mummers Carol
  • arr. Folus – A Hanukkah Celebration
  • Arnold – The Holly and the Ivy (Fantasy on Christmas Carols)
  • J. S. Bach – Sinfonia from ‘Christmas Oratorio’
  • Tchaikovsky/Ellington – The Nutcracker Suite
  • Sheldon Bair – Christmas Sing Along

The Susquehanna Symphony’s popular concert will begin with French composer Georges Bizet’s “March of the Kings”, also known as “Farandole” from his “L’Arlesienne Suite”.  It will continue with Percy Grainger’s moving “Sussex Mummers Carol” which is beloved by our audience and orchestra members alike.  Next, Harford Youth Orchestra conductor Brian Folus will conduct his oft-requested “Hanukkah Celebration”, which is full of well-known and fun-filled Hanukkah tunes.  Continuing the celebration to the end of the first half, the orchestra will perform Sir Malcolm Arnold’s “The Holly and the Ivy” (Fantasy on Christmas Carols), which has a rich and full film-music sound.

After intermission, a chamber orchestra will perform the lovely pastoral prelude to Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio; Cantata No. 2”.  This will be followed by one of the most often requested works in the SSO’s repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” for jazz orchestra by Duke Ellington and his amanuensis Billy Strayhorn, as further arranged by pops conductor and arranger Jeff Tyzik!  The concert concludes with a Sing Along and the orchestra’s holiday shenanigans!

Concert #3

Pre-concert lecture to begin at 6:45 pm.

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Kinga Augustyn – violinist

The SSO’s March concert will begin with a popular and brilliant Slavonic Dance by Antonin Dvorak.

Towson composer, Jonathan Leshnoff, is truly making a name for himself amongst orchestras and chamber musicians world-wide! He is in demand as a composer! The SSO will perform his evocative “Four Dances” to end the first half of the concert.

For the concert’s second half, Maestro Bair has programmed the always popular Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky! Our soloist will be Polish-American violinist and recording artist, Kinga Augustyn! Writing a review for Fanfare Magazine (March/April 2018), Jerry Dubins wrote of Augustyn’s recording of the Bruch Violin Concerto: I was also struck by how expressively she phrases without resorting to heavy vibrato or persistent portamento. In fact, her use of portamento is so infrequent and so poignantly timed on the few occasions when she does use it, that the effect is intensely intimate, as if she is imparting a personal secret. Most of what Augustyn accomplishes on the expressive, emotional level is done with the bow. The fingers find the notes, but it’s the bow that makes them speak and sing, and Augustyn’s bowing is exemplary. When other players cut short the held note values, especially on double-stops, to set up for the next double-stop or chord, or in anticipation of a string crossing or distant shift, Augustyn gives the note values their full due…

Concert #4

Pre-concert lecture to begin at 6:45 pm.

Sheldon Bair – Conductor
Kimberly Sandifer Hirschmann –  Guest Conductor

  • Elgar – Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 in G Major
  • Beethoven – Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
  • Amanda Harberg – Prayer, Kimberly Sandifer Hirschmann conducting
  • Jennifer Hutt – work TBA
  • Florence Price – Dances in the Canebreakes
  • Tracey Rush – Spirit of Freedom

Celebrating Women and the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage (plus Beethoven Anniversary Concert #1)

The SSO’s season finale will begin with Elgar’s famous “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4! This isn’t the popular graduation tune, but it is a famous march, one of five Elgar wrote under the same title.

The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth in Bonn, Germany! Do we need another reason to celebrate this every-popular composer? We will begin the celebration with this concert and continue the anniversary remembrance next season!

This concert will continue with Beethoven’s penultimate symphony, his Symphony No. 8 in F Major. This is one of his shortest and most succinct symphonies, and like his Symphony No. 1 that the SSO performed last season, has no real slow movement. It is a rollicking work unlike the numbered symphonies on either side!

The second half of the SSO’s May concert is a bow to American women who finally attained the right to vote 100 years ago! This portion of the concert will begin with “Prayer” by Amanda Harberg. Composer Amanda Harberg is no stranger to the SSO or Harford County. The Orchestra has performed two of her works, both entitled “Elegy” in the past. Her moving work “Prayer” will be conducted by Kimberly Sandifer Hirschmann, supervisor of fine arts for Frederick County Public Schools and a conductor at the Elizabethtown College Music Camp. Jennifer Hutt, a Bel Air native, has lived in Paris for years and makes her living composing for French film and playing rock and blues violin. She is composing a series of vignettes for the SSO. Next, the SSO will perform Florence Price’s wonderful “Dances in the Canebrakes” as orchestrated by William Grant Still. Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first African-American female composer to have a major work performed by a professional symphony orchestra. The concert will conclude with an SSO favorite which is often performed at the orchestra’s outdoor concerts: Tracey Rush’s “Spirit of Freedom.” This work is a patriotic march in the best sense, with fun percussion and screaming brass!

The Annual Side-by-Side concert will also feature talented orchestra students from Harford County Public Schools.

Concert #5 – Free Bel Air Summer Concert Series| June 7, 2020 (tentative) at 7:00PM | Humbert Memorial Band Shell

Program TBD!

Concert Locations:

Bel Air High School
100 Heighe Street
Bel Air, MD

Humbert Memorial Band Shell
127 Lee Way
Bel Air, MD 21014