Quality Music, Close to Home

For 35 years, the UMBC Symphony has embraced musicians who are students, alumni and neighbors from the surrounding communities.

“Our student musicians benefit from the experience of working with a diverse group from the local community, with everyone coming together to produce quality music,” said Conductor E. Michael Richards, associate professor and chair of music.

Many of the symphony’s student musicians are attending UMBC as Linehan Artist Scholars and Humanities Scholars.

"I am especially excited to participate in this semester's program because my family is originally from Finland, and we will be playing Sibelius' ‘Finlandia,’" said Jonathan Lehtonen '11, a Humanities Scholar and Honors College student who has played the bass trombone for the past 11 years.

Tim Meushaw ‘97, computer science, and a software engineer for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, has played in the symphony’s viola section for 17 years.

“My participation with the orchestra is part of a long-time connection I have to both UMBC and Catonsville, where I grew up,” Meushaw said. “The orchestra also provides a cultural experience for people in the community who appreciate the chance to hear classical music close to home, free of charge.”

Aarica Pittman, a Chevy Chase Bank vice president in her second season with the orchestra, plays the French horn.

“I am so grateful to be part of such a fine orchestra within the community,” said Pittman, a Howard County resident. “Music is our common thread. The arts are such an important part of every community, and the UMBC Symphony offers quality right at our back door.”

Although she will not perform in the upcoming concert, 89-year-old violist Frances Kleeman has played with the symphony since its second concert in 1974.

“I have spent Tuesday evenings rehearsing with the UMBC Symphony for nearly 35 years,” Kleeman said. “There has been no better way to spend those Tuesday nights. It has been a privilege to be with so many talented students and community members.”

Continuing its decades-long tradition of bringing together the campus and local community, the Symphony presents a performance of classical works Sunday, November 23, 8 p.m., highlighted by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major. The performance at the UMBC Fine Arts Recital Hall, free and open to the public, includes Bizet’s “Carmen,” Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite and “Finlandia by Sibelius.

Two other performances are on the UMBC Symphony schedule for 2009. The winners of the UMBC Concerto Competition will be featured Sunday, March 8. A concert Sunday, April 26, will include Mussorgsky’s“Pictures at an Exhibition.”

For more information on the Symphony and other UMBC ensembles, visit

To view a calendar of arts events at UMBC, visit