Hitting All the Right Notes
Music director Jed Gaylin
rehearses the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, founded to give
university and community members a way to enjoy their
PHOTO BY DAVID FRIEDLANDER,
COURTESY OF HSO
The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra offers great music at
By Greg Rienzi
In 1995, at age 27, Lisa Seischab decided to end her
professional musical career. A bassoonist who had played
with the Charlotte Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic and
Syracuse Symphony orchestras, Seischab felt she had taken
her performing career as far as it was going to go, and she
wanted a new direction. In 1997, she moved to Baltimore for
a job in the Development Office of the Baltimore Symphony
Orchestra. Once here, however, the Roland Park resident
realized how much she missed the lure of the stage. She
would later discover that a way to scratch her performance
itch existed less than a mile away from her home, on Johns
Hopkins' Homewood campus — with the
Founded in 1981 by Peabody Conservatory graduate
student Catherine Overhauser, the HSO today still fulfills
its original purpose of giving university and community
members like Seischab a way to develop and enjoy their
Since its inception, the orchestra has been dedicated
to performing and promoting orchestral and chamber music
from the standard and contemporary repertoires. Since 1992,
the HSO has commissioned new works and regularly premieres
the music of Maryland composers. It also provides
opportunities for young Maryland soloists to develop their
Past HSO soloists include such prominent artists as
pianist David Buechner, soprano Allison Charney and
violinist Hilary Hahn. This season will bring flutist
Eugenia Zukerman to the stage.
The HSO will kick off its 24th season on Saturday,
Oct. 22, with performances of Brahms' Symphony no. 3 in F
major and the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by He Zhanhao and
Chen Gang, with erhu soloist Jiebing Chen.
In recent years, the HSO schedule has consisted of
four symphonic concerts held in Shriver Hall, three chamber
concerts in the Mattin Center, an annual concert for
children and families and a free community concert.
The orchestra, which holds open auditions in
September, is made up of 40 percent students, 40 percent
community members and 20 percent JHU faculty and staff.
This season, about 130 musicians of varying backgrounds
— including lawyers, doctors, teachers, librarians
and rocket scientists — will participate in HSO
Edie Stern, general manager of the HSO, said that it's
the diversity of the talented orchestra members that makes
the group so special.
"In addition to our students, we have members who come
from the surrounding neighborhood and as far away as
Virginia," Stern said. "For most of our performers, this is
a beloved avocation. At some point, they may have had to
make the decision between music and another profession, and
they chose medicine, engineering, teaching or other fields,
but they never lost their passion for performing."
In 1991, Peabody alum Jed Gaylin became the HSO's
fifth music director. Under his leadership, the HSO has
developed a reputation for artistically and intellectually
The Hopkins Symphony has become a highly sought-after
collaborator for events and performances in the community,
such as a 2002 gala concert for cancer research featuring
internationally known pianist Awadagin Pratt. The HSO also
collaborates regularly with the Hopkins Choral Society and
Goucher College Choir, in addition to holding community
concerts in conjunction with the music programs at Grace
United Methodist Church and Beth El Synagogue.
Gaylin, an award-winning conductor who since 1997 has
also been music director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony in
New Jersey, said that the HSO's quality and range seem to
increase each year, as the orchestra continues to attract
talented, passionate performers. The result, he said, is
top-notch performances that consistently delight audience
and player alike.
"We play the best music here, and our tickets are
affordable," Gaylin said, referring to prices that range
from $6 to $10. "The performers love to play with us. They
get to play with other excellent musicians and great
soloists in front of a very supportive audience, performing
the greatest pieces of the orchestra literature. The energy
on stage is terribly exciting."
Seischab, who is now associate director of development
for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's Department of
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said that playing with
the HSO allows her to continue to push herself as a
performer while she maintains a career and other
"This is a wonderful orchestra to play with," she
said. "The audiences have been delightful, too, and
hopefully more people will discover us. Once they do,
they'll keep coming back."
Hopkins Symphony Orchestra programs are supported by a
grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency
funded by the state of Maryland and the National Endowment
for the Arts.
Erhu Virtuoso Jiebing Chen Opens the 24th
The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra opens its 2005-2006
season with a visit from Jiebing Chen, one of the world's
foremost erhu players.
On Friday, Chen will give a lecture-demonstration
about the erhu, an ancient two-stringed Chinese violin. On
Saturday, she will give a pre-concert lecture and then join
the HSO for the most famous modern piece for erhu, arranged
especially for her. The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, by He
Zhanhao and Chen Gang, tells the story of lovers who can be
united only by death and their transformation to
Also on the program is Brahms' beloved Symphony No. 3.
HSO music director Jed Gaylin conducts.
Lecture-demonstration: Friday, Oct. 21, at noon, SDS
Room, Mattin Arts Center. Free.
Concert: Saturday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m. lecture; 8 p.m.
performance, Shriver Hall. Free to JHU students with ID;
$10 general admission; $8 for seniors (60+), students
(through college) and JHU faculty, staff and alumni.
For more information, go to
www.jhu.edu/jhso or call 410-516-6542.
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