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Maryland Symphony Orchestra Announces Debut Recording on Major Label

Thirty-Six Years After its Founding, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze, Announces it Will Record Chris Brubeck’s Acclaimed “Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra” with Multiple Grammy Award-Winning Classical Guitarist Sharon Isbin at Strathmore Music Center in September 2018, for Exclusive Release as Part of a New Disc of Commissioned Works for Ms. Isbin, to be Released on a Major Label in Early 2020


HAGERSTOWN, Md. – August 2, 2018 – Bold. Game-changing. An important milestone.

For the first time in its storied thirty-six year history, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra under Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze will have a chance to be heard by an international audience when the MSO steps into the Strathmore Music Center this September to record a significant new composition by American composer Chris Brubeck in collaboration with multiple Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, to be released on a major label recording of new works commissioned by Ms. Isbin in early 2020.

For the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, which has called Hagerstown, Maryland, home since its founding in 1982 – and serves over 60,000 audience members from the four-state region annually in its acclaimed concerts at the historic Maryland Theatre and across Western Maryland – it is an important artistic moment that signals the opening of a bold new chapter ahead for the orchestra.

“The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has been waiting our entire history for the moment to make an artistic mark on the international stage,” says MSO Executive Director Stephen Marc Beaudoin. “With this ‘Affinity’ recording project, thanks to the vital collaboration of Ms. Isbin and our friends at Strathmore Music Center, the support of some truly visionary donors, and Elizabeth Schulze’s luminary artistic leadership, we take a big step toward fulfilling this dream.”

In mid-September, the MSO will head to the acclaimed Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Maryland for the first time in its history, and will work alongside a Grammy-nominated team of production engineers and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin to record Chris Brubeck’s “Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra.”  The MSO and Ms. Isbin, led by MSO Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze, gave the world premiere of “Affinity” in April of 2015, and the MSO’s premiere performance of this work has since been played multiple times on the American Public Media show “Performance Today,” which reaches 300 NPR stations for 1.2 million listeners.

“This opportunity represents the realization of a long held dream for this orchestra and for me,” says MSO Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze. “As the first recording project for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in our thirty-six year history, it also represents an important moment of expansion as we look to the MSO’s big next chapter ahead. For many years, audiences across Maryland and the four-state region have recognized the MSO as a wonderful orchestra. Now the world will know.”

“Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra” is a new sixteen-minute work by Grammy-nominated composer Chris Brubeck, lauded as an innovative performer and composer. Respected music critic for The Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, called Chris Brubeck “a composer with a real flair for lyrical melody – a 21st Century Lenny Bernstein.” Chris was previously a long-standing member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, writing arrangements and touring and recording with his father’s group for over 20 years. Dave and Chris co-wrote the orchestral piece “Ansel Adams: America” which has received dozens of performances and in 2013 was a Grammy finalist for Best Instrumental Composition.

The “Affinity” concerto was commissioned by the Betsy Russell Fund for New Music expressly for acclaimed guitarist Sharon Isbin, a globe-trotting soloist and founding chairwoman of The Juilliard School’s classical guitar department, hailed as “the pre-eminent guitarist of our time.”

“I am excited to record the beautiful ‘Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra’ by Chris Brubeck with Elizabeth Schulze and the MSO,” says Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin. “The work has been embraced by audiences throughout the country, and I'm honored that our world premiere has been celebrated in numerous national broadcasts. I’m looking forward to collaborating with the outstanding artists of the MSO, and to sharing our project worldwide!”

The musicians of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra likewise hailed the opportunity, with longtime horn player and MSO Players Committee Chair Jim Vaughn – who has been a contract player with the orchestra since 1994 – saying “the MSO is a special American orchestra, and for us to work with Sharon Isbin and Elizabeth Schulze to record and expand our reach to an international audience is a wonderful opportunity.” Vaughn continued: “As musicians in the Maryland Symphony Orchestra we applaud this project and eagerly look forward to participating in it. I think I speak for all the musicians of the MSO when I say that the MSO is more than just another gig: it truly is a family. This recording project gives us, the MSO orchestra family, an opportunity to truly shine and be heard by audiences across the globe. We’re ready for our close-up!”

Once recording for “Affinity” by the MSO and Ms. Isbin is complete at Strathmore Music Center in September, Ms. Isbin will continue on to record other selections for the new album, which has a working title of “Affinity.” This album, which features the MSO’s recording of Brubeck’s “Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra,” will also feature other new compositions for guitar written for Ms. Isbin, slated for release in early 2020. The recording will be released as part of MSO Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze’s twentieth anniversary season with the MSO: another important milestone for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

About the Maryland Symphony Orchestra:

Since its founding in 1982, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s influence and reputation has reached far beyond Western Maryland. It is one of only four professional symphony orchestras in Maryland and audience members from South Central Pennsylvania, West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area are drawn to concerts held at the historic Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown. Under the baton of Music Director Elizabeth Schulze—whom the Washington Post calls “a superb conductor”—the MSO has become a first-class orchestra of exceptional artistic quality.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 season of BEGINNINGS features 17 concerts highlighting music from over 40 composers and songwriters in performance at the historic Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown, MD, which will be open for MSO concerts and other events during its heralded expansion project. The MSO’s 2018-19 season opens October 13-14, 2018, with “Visions of America,” a visual concert experience of contemporary American music by Aaron Copland, William Grant Still, and John Corigliano, and the mid-Atlantic premiere of “Night Owl” by composer Michael Daugherty, which the MSO has co-commissioned with the Virginia Symphony. Opening night on October 13 also includes, free of charge with your concert ticket, access to Savor Hagerstown, a new in-theatre food and drink experience highlighting Hagerstown’s fabulous food and drink scene. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale now at