About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 26, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 12
Hopkins Symphony Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Gala Concert

Matthew Stofferahn

Music Director Jed Gaylin and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra celebrate the orchestra's 25th anniversary this week with the world premiere of Matthew Stofferahn's Synkinetic and a performance of Beethoven's towering Symphony No. 9 (Choral). The concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, in Shriver Hall Auditorium on the Homewood campus. Jonathan Palevsky, program director of WBJC-FM and an instructor in the Krieger School's Advanced Academic Programs, gives the pre- concert talk at 7 p.m.

Soloists in the fourth movement of the Beethoven, the "Ode to Joy," will be soprano Lori Hultgren, mezzo-soprano Fenlon Lamb, tenor Richard Crawley and bass Robert Cantrell. They will be joined by the Johns Hopkins Choral Society, Goucher Chorus and Baltimore Masterworks Chorale.

Composer Matthew Stofferahn was a trombonist in the HSO until May, when he graduated from the School of Medicine. In his final year, he was awarded Johns Hopkins' Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts "for excellence and the highest standards of proficiency" in the arts while studying an unrelated discipline. He is now a resident physician in Christiana, Del.

As an undergraduate, Stofferahn studied composition with Erica Muhl, Stephen Hartke, Frank Ticheli and Donald Crockett at the University of Southern California. He graduated summa cum laude in 2003, with a bachelor of music degree in composition and a minor in the natural sciences, and was named Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Composition and the Thornton School of Music. His original works have been performed by numerous ensembles, including the USC Thornton Symphony.

Gaylin commissioned Synkinetic to open the gala concert.

"Given the piece's purpose, I conceived of it as an overture," said Stofferahn, who composed it over the spring and summer while finishing school, moving and starting his career as a physician. "While doing the initial planning, I thought of a well-known example of the genre: Leonard Bernstein's famous 1956 overture to Candide. What interested me about this work was how the tempo remains blazingly fast throughout while the character of the piece changes so drastically, from opening fanfares, to whimsical playfulness, to a beautiful love duet. Bernstein convincingly fulfills the overture's traditional role of introducing the operetta's major themes while using the persistently vivace tempo to build momentum and excitement. For my piece, I decided to emulate this approach using my own ideas."

Stofferahn said that he named the piece Synkinetic to convey the concept of cooperatively moving forward. "The orchestra is the largest standard instrumental ensemble, and the effectiveness of its artistic expression depends on the cooperation and communication among its individual members. If they are not precisely together, the music falls apart. If they are, though, the music can soar," he said. "Over the past 25 years, the HSO has taken on this challenge, growing into a mature and capable ensemble, and I'm sure that its next quarter century will bring continuing success. In a way, the HSO and I are moving forward together. I, too, turned 25 this year."

Admission to the Dec. 1 concert is free for Johns Hopkins and Goucher College students. Tickets are $8 for other students, seniors (60+) and Johns Hopkins affiliates. General admission is $10.

Featured works in later 25th anniversary concerts include a free performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Sunday, Feb. 17; a free kids concert on Saturday, March 8; Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Sunday, March 9; the winner of the first Hopkins Concerto and Aria Competition, Sunday, April 6; and Copland's Symphony No. 3, Sunday, April 27.

The orchestra will present another world premiere on Sunday, April 27: Gaetano Panariello's triple concerto for oboe, bassoon and piano.

The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, a program of The Johns Hopkins University, is the only community orchestra in Baltimore City. Each year, the HSO offers four symphonic and three chamber concerts, and a special children's concert. Orchestra members are Johns Hopkins students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as other talented Baltimore-Washington area musicians.

Jed Gaylin, now in his 15th season as HSO music director, also directs the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and the Cape May Music Festival, both in New Jersey. He has just been named principal guest conductor of the National Film and Radio Philharmonic in Beijing.

HSO 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.

For information about all HSO programs, call 410-516-6542, write to or go to


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |