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Ben-Dor in the running for Ohio and Calif. posts


Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra for the last three seasons, has been named a finalist by two other orchestras searching for music directors.

Ms. Ben-Dor, 38, is one of nine finalists named by the Santa Barbara Symphony and one of five candidates vying for the leadership of the Dayton Philharmonic.

"They have good taste," says Patricia Edwards, manager of the Annapolis Symphony. "We're cheering her on, but we just hope she'll have time for us."

Ms. Ben-Dor is on a year-to-year contract with the ASO and must give the local orchestra a full season's notice before leaving. Her contract expires in May 1994.

The Ohio and California orchestras play longer seasons and operate with bigger budgets than the Annapolis Symphony does. The Santa Barbara orchestra, according to its production manager, Michael Vanstry, presents seven pairs of subscription concerts over an eight-month season and maintains an annual budget of $1.2 million.

Dayton's operation is even larger ' a $2 million annual budget and a season of nine classical subscription concerts plus a "Pops" series and "Casual Classics" performances.

The ASO, by contrast, plays five subscription pairs each year and operates on a $484,000 budget.

Neither orchestra would require Ms. Ben-Dor to move from her New Jersey home.

"We'd prefer our next conductor to live in town," says Jim VanBleck, vice president of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Board, "but it's not essential."

Santa Barbara would require a conductor's presence one week out of each month.

Ms. Ben-Dor conducted the New York Philharmonic last week, filling in at a moment's notice for an ailing Kurt Masur. She will journey to Santa Barbara in April and lead the orchestra in a program of John Adams, Khachaturian and Tchaikovsky.

No date has been set for a performance in Dayton.

In Ohio, Ms. Ben-Dor is competing against four up-and-coming assistants and associates with major orchestras.

Her fellow contestants in Santa Barbara include John Giordano of the Fort Worth Symphony, Jorge Mester, long a mainstay of the Aspen Music Festival, and Isaiah Jackson, the conductor whose resignation from the Dayton Philharmonic created the other vacancy Ms. Ben-Dor is seeking to fill.

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