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Top 10 Reasons You Should Check out the Columbia Orchestra this Year!


Did you know that Howard County has a fantastic Symphony Orchestra?


Admittedly, there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the performing arts scene in the DC-Baltimore Metro Area. Given so many top-notch choices, it can be next to impossible to figure out which events to attend and which groups to support. Well, if you live in Howard County or the surrounding area, one of the top-notch choices is the Columbia Orchestra, which was lauded as “a pillar of the local arts community” by the Washington Post. In advance of the Columbia Orchestra’s 37th Season, I would like to share my top 10 reasons why you should check out the 2014-2015 Season of the Columbia Orchestra!

*Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the Columbia Orchestra as well. I play in the 1st violin section. However, instead of being biased, I would like to think I just have the insider scoop on why this orchestra totally rocks! I hope you agree with me!

  1. Jason Love is an amazing Music Director and conductor (this is the part where I totally suck up to Jason). Ok, seriously. I have played with a number of performing arts groups but I have never played for someone as fantastic as Jason. As a prospective audience member, you will be delighted at how funny Jason is, and how accessible he makes the music- often giving the audience the super interesting details both on the music being performed and the composer. Jason is hilarious during rehearsals as well, which makes spending 2 1/2 hours a week with him a real delight. However, the real secret to Jason’s greatness as a conductor is that he interprets the music in such an emotional and powerful way, that audiences often forget they are in Howard County and not the Kennedy Center or the Meyerhoff. In 2013, Jason was awarded the American Prize in Orchestral Programming (a big deal) and as a member of the orchestra, I have a pretty good idea why– since I joined the orchestra in 2008, we have played great masterpieces like Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Titan Symphony, Tan Dun’s ‘The Map,’ and Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring,’ which Jason conducted without a score. Simply amazing!
  2.  World class soloists! This season, the Columbia Orchestra is fortunate enough to welcome Jonathan Carney, the Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, back to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto on Saturday, October 11th.  Jonathan Carney is truly a virtuoso and an incredibly entertaining performer to watch. As a soloist, his talent is just breathtaking. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see him play!
  3. Great ticket prices and free parking! It is hard to beat the value of tickets to see the Columbia Orchestra perform. For the classical and pops concerts, individual tickets cost $25, senior (age 60 and up) tickets- $21, and student tickets- $12. If you subscribe to the season, not only do you get to lock in your preferred seat, but you get a 20% discount on each ticket as well. Plus, parking is free at the Rouse Theatre. How can you beat that deal?
  4. Did I mention that Jason picks excellent music to perform? Well, I am thrilled with what we are playing on the December 6th concert. Oooh, my fingers are tingling while writing this I am so excited. We are playing Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No. 9, “From the New World!” Yeah! Ok, so this is kind of funny story- last spring Jason gave a preview of the 2014-2015 season. I had been crossing my fingers that we would play the New World Symphony ever since we read through it a few months earlier. Sure enough, when he announced it, I was so excited I actually squealed– loudly– loud enough that the entire room heard it. ‘Sigh,’ I guess you can’t say I am not enthusiastic!
  5. Free wine and cheese! At numerous times throughout the season, community members (that is you) are invited to a free open rehearsal, where you get to sit among the orchestra as we rehearse. Jason always gives some extra insider info about the program (the squealing incident from above happened at an open rehearsal), and participants get to partake in some great wine and yummy cheese, fruit, and chocolate during the event. Did I mention that the open rehearsals are free? How can you beat that?
  6. Speaking of free, in addition to the regular season, various members of the Columbia Orchestra will get together in smaller ensembles to perform three free (yes, free) Chamber Concerts throughout the season. This year’s Chamber Concerts will be held on November 8th, March 15th, and May 31st at Christ Episcopal Church.
  7. Great Date Night! Ok, so are looking for that perfect special night to go out with your significant other? Or, perhaps a Ladies Night Out? Well, it just so happens that the Melting Pot is located literally right next to the Rouse Theatre! What a great date! You get your cheese and chocolate fondue fix in an early dinner, and then stroll on over to the Rouse for some great music! That is a hard combo to beat– just saying.
  8. It’s not all about the adults though! Nope! One of the Columbia Orchestra’s most popular programs in the annual Young People’s Concert. The 2014-2015 Young People’s Concert will be held on February 21st and is perfect for kids starting at about age 1 1/2 through probably 10 years old. This year Greg Jukes will narrate Camille Saint-Saëns – Carnival of the Animals, as members of Dance Connections play the part of the animals. There are actually two concerts on February 21st and in between them, your kids can visit the instrument petting zoo, where they will be able to get hands-on time with many of the instruments in the orchestra.
  9. The orchestra is primarily composed of volunteers. This little details just utterly astounds me. Almost all the musicians in the Columbia Orchestra have (or had if they are now retired) day jobs as teachers, engineers, analysts, government workers, math and computer geniuses, you name it. We come together once a week to rehearse and I can’t say as though I have ever played with a better group of musicians. You would think this would be a limiting factor, but it isn’t. We play much of the same music as the Baltimore Symphony and National Symphony, and as a musician, there are many times throughout the season that I am personally moved by the quality of our performance. It is a great honor to play in this orchestra.
  10. Ok, I could go on but I did say top 10 reasons. So, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other great works the orchestra is playing this season. The pieces I am most looking forward to (after the Brahms and Dvorak of course) are, Schumann’s 3rd Symphony, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

After a list like that, how can you resist?

Seriously though, come and check out the Columbia Orchestra this year. I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

For additional programming details and ticket information, see:

Thanks for reading!


By the way, if you don’t live in the DC-Baltimore area, have no fear! There is probably a fantastic community-oriented symphony orchestra in your area too!


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[…] orchestral masterpieces as a violinist in the Columbia Orchestra (Dvorak, Mahler, Beethoven, Verdi, Holst, Stravinsky, I could go […]

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