Candlelight Concert Society, Howard County's consistent source of professional classical music, begins its 21st season tomorrow with subtle diversity in its schedule.
By adding minority performers, aiming dramatic programs at middle school students, previewing concerts with free music discussions and instituting a family night, Candlelight hopes to fill more of its seats with people from varied backgrounds.
The changes haven't diluted the product.
The 1993-1994 concert series includes performances by Awadagin Pratt, the first black American to win the 1992 Naumburg International Piano Competition, and the Lark Quartet, an all-woman group awarded the Gold Medal in the 1991 Shostakovich International String Quartet Competition and winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1990.
The schedule also includes the return of popular performers such as Richard Goode and the Emerson String Quartet.
Diversity also is in the Performing Arts Series for Children, offering the Baltimore American Indian Dance Theatre and Charlotte Blake Alston, a story teller and singer of songs on African and black American subjects.
Candlelight added two performances this year designed for older children, "Three Centuries of Violin and Piano" and "A Thousand Cranes." This addition attempts to fill a vacuum left by Howard Community College, which ended its Stage II program for middle and high school theater-goers this year.
Bonita Bush, Candlelight executive director, said that this is an effort to establish "long-range audience development" for children through the early teens.
"That age is hard to get out to the theater," she said.
In that same vein, Candlelight is making The St. Lawrence String Quartet's performance on Feb. 5 "Family Night."
The program is for children 6 and older and their families. It will feature explanations and comments by the artists to enhance young listeners' enjoyment and make their first introduction to chamber music a pleasurable one.
The final effort at drawing in a more diverse audience is Face the Music, a free music lecture scheduled 1 1/2 hours before six of the concert performances, designed to help concert-goers appreciate the classical works.
Musicians, musicologists and classical music radio broadcasters will discuss topics pertinent to that evening's performance.
Ms. Bush said that Face the Music is an opportunity to "learn something new [and] reach people who say they don't like chamber music."
One surprise in the concert series is a soprano and saxophone group, Phyllis Bryn-Julson and Gary Louie. Ms. Bryn-Julson, the soprano, teaches at the Peabody Institute.
"It's very interesting because the voice and saxophone have a very interesting blend. All the works are basically new. One of the works will be a U.S. premiere. It's a contemporary program. But I don't want to scare people off. It's a very accessible program," she said.
The early music offering, Hesperion XX, set to perform March 5, contributed to the soundtrack for the 1993 film "Tous les Matins du Monde."
"I don't think we've had any film stars before," said Ms. Bush.
The Arden Trio will open the season tomorrow with performances from Haydn's Trio in A major, Hob. XV/18; Chausson's Trio in G minor, Op. 3, and Brahms's Trio in B major, Op. 8.
Established in 1975 at the Yale School of Music, the Trio -- comprising violinist Suzanne Ornstein, cellist Clay Ruede and pianist Thomas Schmidt -- has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
The group's recording of three Haydn trios was relased last year, and a recording of two Mendelssohn piano trios is expected to be released later this year.
Like many nonprofit arts organizations, Candlelight's financial condition has been difficult in the last few years, but it's improving through austerity and fund-raising, officials said.
"We've done everything we can do to reduce our administrative costs," said Chuck Thomas, Candlelight president, speaking at the organization's unassuming two-room operation on Rumsey Road in the Oakland Ridge Industrial Center.
"We've also raised more money than we've had in the past."
Candlelight's operating budget for this year is about $125,000, with more than half that amount budgeted for artists fees said Mr. Thomas.
One of its sources of money, a $30,000 Maryland State Arts Council Advancement Grant, was awarded in 1989, to be paid out in phases. It mandates that Candlelight have a cash reserve fund of $30,000 by May 1 of next year to receive the final award of $6,500.
In order to fulfill that requirement, Candlelight has scheduled a "Santa Fe by Candlelight" fund-raiser from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. November 14.
The event will be an auction and raffle with music and food. Grand prize is a trip to Santa Fe, N.M.
Candlelight Concert Society presents the Arden Trio at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre in Columbia. Tickets are $16; $13 for seniors and $8 for full-time students. Tickets may be purchased at An die Musik, 3300A Centennial Lane in Ellicott City. The Arden Trio will lead the Face the Music program beginning at 6:30 p.m. Smith Theatre is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with the "Easy Listener" Phonic Ear FM System for patrons with difficulty hearing. Information: 715-0034.
1993-94 CANDLELIGHT CONCERTS
Sept. 18: Arden Trio
Oct. 9: Saturday Brass
Oct. 23: Phyllis Bryn-Julson and Gary Louie
Dec. 4: Beaux Arts Trio
Jan. 8: Awadagin Pratt
Jan. 22: Walden Horn Trio
Feb. 5: St. Lawrence String Quartet
Feb. 20: Richard Goode
March 5: Hesperion XX
April 9: Emerson String Quartet
April 23: Rolf Schulte
May 7: Carter Brey and Christopher O'Riley
May 14: Lark Quartet
1993-1994 Performing Arts Series for Children
Oct. 24: Baltimore American Indian Dance Theatre
Dec. 5: The Virginia Company
Jan. 9: Ann and Isidor Saslav
Feb. 6: Charlotte Blake Alston
Feb. 27: National Marionette Theatre
2& April 10: ArtReach Touring Theatre