Conductor aims to keep the 'wow' Symphony: With the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra on a roll, new conductor Leslie Dunner looks to maintain a lively pace.


Leslie Dunner is a little puzzled about reactions he's been getting to the news of his appointment to the helm of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.

"The responses," he reports, "are either, 'Oh, I didn't even know Annapolis had an orchestra,' or, 'You got the ASO? Wow!'

"It's interesting how the orchestra is perceived," says Dunner, who is in town this week for his first round of administrative duties since his appointment in April. "There's been such a big contrast in the reactions. Not one person has simply said, 'Oh, that's nice,' when I told them."

Dunner's mission, as he perceives it, is crystal clear. "What I have to do now," he says, "is keep that 'wow' feeling permeating everything we do."

The first step toward that goal is the ASO's 1998-1999 subscription concerts, three of which Dunner will conduct.

Given Dunner's burgeoning career and the lateness of his hiring, it is lucky the orchestra pried him away from his commitments in Nova Scotia and Detroit to have him on hand even for that many.

Spelling Dunner on the podium for those other concerts will be Russia's Vladimir Rylov, who will conduct Mendelssohn, Weber, and Schubert at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in November, and Christopher Wilkins, the music director of the San Antonio Symphony, who comes to Maryland Hall in January.

Most of next season's offerings come from the tried-and-true symphonic repertoire, which is certainly the best place for a new conductor to begin building the kind of orchestra he wants.

A symphonic lineup of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1, Schubert's "Litte C-major," Dvorak's sensational No. 7 in D, Leonard Bernstein's biblically inspired "Jeremiah Symphony" and Beethoven's hyperkinetic No. 7 should help Dunner do just that.

Soloists for the season are a most distinguished lot.

Philadelphia pianist Peter Orth, once a student of Rudolph Serkin and winner of the 1979 Naumburg Piano Competition, plays the monumental Brahms D minor concerto in September.

The remarkable soprano Kishna Davis, who caused such a stir as a last-minute replacement at Dunner's audition concert in February, returns to sing the "Lamentation" movement in "Jeremiah" and the conductor's "Motherless Child Songs."

David McGill, principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony, plays Carl Maria von Weber's vivacious concerto in November, and a pair of up-and-coming female violinists, Livia Sohn and Lara St. John, give us the Bruch and Sibelius concertos next winter and spring.

Sohn comes out of the Juilliard studio of Dorothy Delay, the master teacher who has given the world Perlman, Zuckerman, Lin, Midori, Salerno-Sonnenberg and just about every other fiddler of note in the world today.

St. John, a Canadian who has soloed with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia and Toronto, is perhaps as famous for her provocative album covers as she is for her playing.

The orchestra's Camarata Chamber Series, which seemed on the edge of extinction after the untimely death last fall of conductor Sara Watkins, has been retained with two mostly baroque programs, in October and April.

"It's all a nice blend and a nice balance," says Dunner, who this week begins a busy summer that will take him to concerts in Chicago, Colorado, Washington and points in between.

"Hopefully, it will get everyone fired up. I'm excited, and I know the orchestra is going to be fired up."

Season schedule

Here are the programs for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's 1998-1999 Concert Season and its Camarata Chamber Series:

Symphony Concert Season

Sept. 11-12

Leslie Dunner, conductor

Peter Orth, piano

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1

Brahms: Symphony No. 1

Nov. 20-21

Vladimir Rylov, conductor

David McGill, bassoon

Mendelssohn: "Fair Melusine" Overture

Weber: Bassoon Concerto

Schubert: Symphony No. 6

Dec. 18

Holiday pops concert

Jan. 22-23

Christopher Wilkins, conductor

Livia Sohn, violin

Rossini: Overture to "The Italian Girl in Algiers"

Sibelius: Violin Concerto

Dvorak: Symphony No. 7

Feb. 26-27

Leslie Dunner, conductor

Kishna Davis, soprano

Ives: The Unanswered Question

Bernstein: Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah Symphony"

Dunner: "Motherless Child Songs"

Hanson: Symphony No. 2, "Romantic"

May 14-15

Leslie Dunner, conductor

Lara St. John, violin

Beethoven: Overture to "Egmont"

Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Camarata Chamber Series

Oct. 16

Elizabeth Schulze, conductor

Daniel Heifetz, violin

Sel Kardan, viola

Vitali: Chiaconna

Vivaldi: Concerto for Four Violins

Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola

April 16

Piotr Gajewsky, conductor

Grieg: Holberg Suite

Vivaldi: Concerto for Piccolo

Pachelbel: Canon

Bach: Suite No. 2

Ticket and subscription information: 410-263-0907

Pub Date: 6/11/98

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