Some of the concert musicians, Bailey says, have complained about the auditorium acoustics. The sound seems to shoot straight up into the stage fly way rather than out into the audience. Bailey envisions one day erecting a band shell on the stage to throw the sound toward the audience. As with Bailey's vision of building a small theater where the gymnasium now stands, the band shell and other improvements will have to wait for more certain economic times.
Beth Whaley and Joanne Scott started Maryland Hall with a $10,000 pledge from the Annapolis Fine Arts Foundation and $50,000 from the county. The Hall grew out of the fine arts festival that Whaley -- now a member of the State Arts Council -- launched in 1963. The festival, featuring dramatic performances, exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, drawing and photography, was held first at St. John's College, then at City Dock, Annapolis.
"The biggest problem for performing groups is lack of space to rehearse, perform, store equipment," said Whaley.
The search for a permanent home for the arts festival took years in the 1970s, as Whaley and Scott considered plans for new buildings on the St. John's College campus and behind the Annapolis Elementary school. They zeroed in finally on the vacant Annapolis High School, which the school department owns and continues to maintain.
It still has a long way to go, says Bailey, but he said, "If we keep our nose to the grindstone it's really going to be a gem. . . . I know we're going to be here a longer than the economy is going to be bad."
It's a good 2 hours from Pocomoke City to Annapolis, a trip that Katherine Justice makes with her mother every week. The ninth-grader with the voice of a 20-year-old is working on a career in musical theater and finds her way to Maryland Hall for 90 minutes of work with Robert Kole, a member of the Peabody Preparatory faculty who gives private lessons here.
On this evening, Justice and John Yannone, an Annapolis lawyer who's been singing since he was in college, are preparing for a recital at Maryland Hall. The two met through Kole's classes, and now they join voices on "All I Ask of You" from "Phantom of the Opera," the song spilling out of Room 210 into the corridor and through the windows out onto the portico of the big old school house, announcing to evening visitors that arts are lively and living at Maryland Hall.