ASO will pass the baton around


The Annapolis Symphony has announced the slate of guest conductors who will lead the orchestra's Classic Series concerts in the 2003-2004 season.

Buffeted in recent months by criticism over the decision not to renew the contract of music director Leslie B. Dunner, the ASO will begin looking to the future by showcasing some of the nation's highly regarded young conductors. Some of the visitors might be considered for the orchestra's permanent directorship, according to ASO insiders.

Leading the orchestra in September will be Daniel Hege, in his fourth season directing New York's Syracuse Symphony. In 2001, Hege completed a five-year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony, where he held the titles of assistant, associate and resident conductor. His recent guest-conducting engagements include the Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Oregon and Rochester symphonies.

Rossen Milanov, assistant conductor of the world-class Philadelphia Orchestra, will visit Annapolis in November. Milanov also is music director of the Haddonfield Symphony in New Jersey and conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra in his native Sofia, Bulgaria.

Lara Webber, the Baltimore Symphony's associate conductor, will ascend the Maryland Hall podium in January. Now in her third BSO season, Webber programs and conducts more than 80 concerts a year, including classical subscription, educational, Pops and "run-out" (one-day, out-of-town) concerts.

Previously, Webber was the first woman to serve as as music director of the Los Angeles Debut Orchestra, a prestigious post formerly held by Andre Previn, Lawrence Foster and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Joining the local orchestra in March next year will be Emil de Cou, who began his duties as assistant conductor of the National Symphony last season.

Like Dunner, he has experience in the ballet pit, having conducted for the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. In 1995 and 1996, he served as principal pops conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, and his recent guest engagements include appearances with the orchestras of Milwaukee, Hartford, Conn., Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston.

David Lockington, music director of Michigan's Grand Rapids Symphony, will close the ASO's season of guest conductors in May next year, appearing in tandem with his wife, violinist Dylana Jensen.

The native of Britain began his musical career as a cellist, but soon gravitated to the podium. In 1992, he was named assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony and was promoted to associate the next year. His other posts include directorships of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the New Mexico Symphony and the Long Island Philharmonic. His recent guest stints include the symphonies of St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis and New York City's Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Even as this slate of guest conductors is announced, a search committee is at work selecting candidates to fill the ASO directorship.

Finalists will be auditioned during the 2004-05 season, with a new music director expected to take the Maryland Hall stage in the fall of 2005.

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