THE ANNAPOLIS Symphony Orchestra this weekend plays under the baton of Gisele Ben-Dor, resident conductor of the Houston Symphony, the third of six candidates trying out for full-time conductor this year before a selection is made in May.
Pat Edwards, executive director of the 80-member orchestra, said the new permanent leader will replace Peter Bay, who left last year to become associate conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic and assistant conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Kenneth Page, Leon Fleisher and Bay have been the only conductors in the group's 30-year history.
"We're in the black, have a budget of $420,000, are 98 percent sold out on Saturdays next season and are excited about the new conductor," said Edwards, in her fourth year as the first person in the job. The orchestra hopes to present five double programs next year. James Cheevers, assistant archivist at the Naval Academy Museum, is board president.
Karen Deal, a Peabody Conservatory graduate, is acting as resident conductor this year and is one of the six candidates. She leads the orchestra in the season's final concert May 18.
In a two-piece program this weekend, Ben-Dor leads the Annapolis group at 8 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. Tickets are $17, $15 and $13. Call (301) 263-0907. The hall holds 850.
Pianist Alexander Peskanov, of Long Island, a Russian-born and trained musician in this country for 20 years, plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 with the group. The orchestra also plays Brahms' Symphony No. 1.
Besides Deal's appearance in May, two other candidates in upcoming concerts are scheduled. They are Christopher Kendall, associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony, director of the Folger Consort and conductor of the 20th Century Consort ensemble at the Hirshhorn Museum, in a concert March 9 and 10, and Gary Schneider, director of the Hoboken Chamber Orchestra, in a single concert April 27. He will direct the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5.
The two other candidates who performed this fall were David Allen Miller, associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Randall Craig Fleischer, an Affiliated Artist conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.