- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2001

Atlantica, a new chamber orchestra formed by young local string musicians and led by violinist and conductor Philip Spletzer, makes its debut this weekend.

The group can be heard March 3at the Avalon Theatre in Easton on the Eastern Shore. A concert also was held March 2 at the Pascal Center for the Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md.

Atlantica sees itself as filling a void in several Maryland counties by presenting masterpieces done for string instruments and chamber orchestras. The debut program includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Arcangelo Corelli and Antonin Dvorak.

Mr. Spletzer and fellow Baltimore violinist Tamara Seymour appear as soloists in the concerts. Atlantica performs without a conductor for the first-half of the program, when Mr. Spletzer team ups with Miss Seymour to perform Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. The second-half of the program features Dvorak's Serenade for Strings in E Major.

Mr. Spletzer, who also is the concertmaster of symphonies in Annapolis and Key West, Fla., says he decided in May to create Atlantica to "give the good string players of this community an opportunity, and at the same time, to play music that is not heard."

He says he wants to "revitalize the classical concert stage."

Mr. Spletzer, 34, picked 21 young professional string musicians (the average age of Atlantica members is 30) who recently finished their studies at conservatories in Washington, Baltimore and Manhattan.

"I knew all of them. I picked the best performers," he says. "It is a dream come true."

The name Atlantica comes from Mr. Spletzer's love of the water. He says the ocean also links the three places where he has conducted most — Baltimore, Manhattan and Key West.

The conductor, a native of Long Island, N.Y., received his training at the Manhattan School of Music and at the University of Akron in Ohio before joining the Miami-based New World Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

He also has toured in South America, Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, Russia and South Africa, where he was a soloist and concertmaster for the National Symphony of South Africa.

A veteran music educator, Mr. Spletzer has worked with Young Audiences of Maryland, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's ArtsExcel program and as a coach for young string players at Georgetown University.

As for Atlantica's plans, he says, "we will have to get through the weekend's performances first."

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