"To see the growth of where we started to where we are now is great," founding member says.

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For nearly 20 years, the Hanover Symphony Orchestra has combined wind, string and percussion instruments to put on performances for local audiences.

The orchestra's performance Nov. 1 won't just signify the start of another season; it will signify two decades of an idea that started in a Spring Grove living room, said Sue Gross, the assistant conductor.

"Larry Kuntz and I were the first conductors, and we started tossing the idea back and forth to each other on how we would do it," Gross said. "Eventually we invited musicians we knew into my living room and had our first meeting. It's funny to think about how that was the first time we were really the orchestra."

Before the orchestra started performing in the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover, locals packed the auditoriums of Hanover and South Western high schools to hear anything from jazz to classical music, Gross said.

"To see the growth of where we started to where we are now is great," she said.

The orchestra will hold four performances this season, Gross said. The first concert, on Nov. 1, is the 20th anniversary concert and will open with the first song the symphony ever played: "The Royal Fireworks Overture" by George Frideric Handel.

Joe Clark, the principal percussionist, was one of the original 12 founding members of the orchestra. He looks back fondly at the first few years when the orchestra was just getting off the ground.

"The experience of being able to play symphonic music for the area, it was something I've always wanted," he said. "For those first five years when we'd have 300 people or more coming out to shows. There was just a newness and excitement to it."

Now entering year 20, Clark said he has no thoughts of quitting but is concerned with what he thinks is a lack of community support.

"I wish I could say I've seen the growth," he said. "I don't know how much longer we can survive, so we need the community behind us 100 percent."

Gross also has been frustrated with the support of the symphony at times, she said.

"Sometimes we hear people say 'Hanover has a symphony?'" she said. "For the sake of the orchestra we need to get people excited."

No matter what happens in the future, members said they are happy to have started an orchestra in the Hanover area.

"It's been rewarding for me," Clark said. "Twenty years, if you tell me that's how long it's been, I blink my eyes and wonder where the time's gone."

If you go

What: Hanover Symphony Orchestra's 20th season

When: Nov. 1, Dec. 13, Jan. 24 and April 3; all concerts start at 3 p.m.

Where: Eichelberger Performing Arts Center, 195 Stock St., Hanover

Cost: $17 for adults and $9 for students if purchased in advance; $20 on the day of the concert

Buy tickets: 717-637-7086 or www.theeich.org

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