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ASO slates world premiere of artist's first classical try


She is a Grammy-nominated jazz pianist who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Prince, Carlos Santana and Boyz II Men. So why is Patrice Rushen in Annapolis?

Rushen, a recording artist and composer, is in Annapolis for the world premiere of her first classical composition, Sinfonia, at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts this weekend.

Rushen has written scores for films and television shows, but she wanted to write something in a longer form for a full orchestra. Discovering the difficulties of classical composing, Rushen took her work in progress to the Orchestra Reading Project, where she quickly learned how to finish it.

She then submitted her completed piece to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's African-American Composers Program. The conductor for that project was Leslie B. Dunner, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's music director.

Rushen served as African-American composer in residence for the Detroit Symphony last year, and it was during this period that Dunner first reviewed the score for Sinfonia. He decided he wanted to present the world premiere of Rushen's first symphony.

"It is always important to bring living composers to their audiences," Dunner said. "An artist as musically diverse as Ms. Rushen brings a wealth of potential for new audience experiences."

Also during this weekend's concerts, a charismatic young musician will grace the ASO stage. Julie Albers, a 21-year-old cellist acclaimed for her musicianship, will perform Samuel Barber's "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra," which is revered for its melodic beauty.

Having made a widely acclaimed debut with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra in 1998, Albers first performed with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in spring 2000, earning praise for her expressive style.

Raised in Longmont, Colo., Albers began studying the violin at age 2 and switched to the cello at 4. She moved to Cleveland during her junior year in high school to pursue studies through the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Aaron.

Albers recently gave a recital at Washington's National Museum of Women in the Arts and gave concerto performances with the symphony orchestras of Indianapolis; Brevard, Fla.; Canton, Ohio; Dearborn, Mich.; Olympia, Wash.; and San Antonio.

Completing this weekend's program will be Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, often described as the most lyrical of the Czech composer's works. Last performed by the ASO in 1986, the work features prominent solos for the woodwinds and the cello section.

This concert concludes the ASO's 2001-2002 season. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Tickets are available for both evenings, with prices ranging from $7 to $23 for students, and $30 to $33 for adults. No one younger than 8 will be admitted.

Tickets: 410-263-0907.

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