Dr. Robert Suggs created the Greenspring Valley Orchestra in 2002. Since then, it has become known as one of Baltimore’s most respected amateur organizations of its kind. Nearing retirement, Suggs is hopeful for the future of the ensemble.
Organized and directed by Suggs, the Greenspring Valley Orchestra is based at Stevenson University. The orchestra is comprised of college and community musicians and has grown in numerous ways since its beginning. According to Suggs, the orchestra was almost one-fifth the size that it is now.
When the orchestra was founded, musical instruments were not available. Suggs recalled a singular piano belonging to the university. The rest of the instruments were owned by the musicians within the ensemble. There were also very few music collections and one set of 1950s Catholic hymns. Suggs brought in and incorporated the entirety of the musical pieces at Stevenson.
Suggs said the organization began playing “simplified versions of original music” to cater to the instrumentation and skill level of the ensemble. After 15 years of growth and experience, the Greenspring Valley Orchestra is now more than capable of performing original pieces.
The orchestra has grown vastly since its debut. The Greenspring Valley Orchestra celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2012 by performing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a concerto very dear to the conductor’s heart and appropriate for such a momentous occasion.
Suggs has made a huge impact during his time at Stevenson. He wrote the music for the university’s Alma Mater, and is now in the process of creating a complete orchestral version of the piece. This version will comprise more instrumentation and a longer tune.
Approaching retirement, Suggs is working to ensure a future for the Greenspring Valley Orchestra. He says it is unknown what is going to happen, but the consensus from the orchestra is that it should continue. He is currently searching for the right person to take his place, one with “valuable community relations” who serves as an example of commitment to the fine arts.
Suggs wants to stay involved with music as he retires, but is unsure of the path he will take. He hopes to know by next spring who will succeed him.
There will be two upcoming performances: “La Prima Vera” will be held on Friday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. and “A Musical Journey” on Sunday, May 7 at 4 p.m. Both of these events will be held in the Inscape Theatre on the Greenspring campus.