If you build it, they will come. That applies not just to Shoeless Joe Jackson and fields of dreams. The resounding success of the Maryland Symphony, both in performance and at the box office demonstrates that the hunger for cultural excellence is not confined to the big cities. If the achievement of the symphony based in Hagerstown is the most spectacular in the state, it is not unique. In Frederick, Annapolis, Columbia, College Park, Easton and elsewhere in the state, cultural institutions are flourishing.
Still, the record of the Maryland Symphony is remarkable. The potential audience in Hagerstown was there, but it took the inspiration of one musician to realize that fact and to provide the magnet to bring it out. Barry Tuckwell, already the world's premier French horn player, responded to a friend's suggestion that he establish and lead an orchestra in Western Maryland. He had already started conducting and was attracted by the possibility of building his own orchestra. And build he did. The first year the orchestra played four concerts. As it celebrates its tenth anniversary this weekend, the Maryland Symphony fills its hall 16 times a year.
The lesson is clear. World-class organizations like the Baltimore Symphony and the Walters Art Gallery enrich the cultural lives of all Marylanders and bring international renown to Baltimore. Regional institutions like the Maryland Symphony bring artistic quality closer to home for tens of thousands of Marylanders. They complement each other in a way that contributes mightily to making this the land of pleasant living.