Having Reared The Aso, Deal Now Means To Keep It

Resident Conductor Seeks A Permanent Slot

May 17, 1991|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing writer

Karen Deal has enjoyed her year as resident conductor and music adviser of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra so much that she'd like to make it a permanent arrangement.

Tomorrow night, she gets her chanceto score points with the ASO's search committee as the final entrantin this season's conducting derby.

Her program includes the "Concierto de Aranjuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo along with selections by Manuel de Falla, Georges Bizet and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov.

"I've really gotten my hands dirty running the orchestra this year," Deal said. "And I've loved it. No doubt about it, I'd love to be the conductor of this orchestra."

Deal hit the ground running when the orchestra board named her to guide the ensemble through this transitional season of guest conductors.

She hired a new concertmistress, principal horn and bass trombonist and expanded the ASO string section. She worked diligently to improve the players' wage package and has programmed the entire 1991-1992 season for the orchestra.

Deal also established an ASO affiliation with the Baltimore Symphony.

"We should definitely align ourselves more with the BSO," she said. "A principal player from Baltimore should solo with us at least once each season."

Next season, for instance, BSO concertmaster Herbert Greenberg will perform the Brahms Violin Concertowith the ASO.

She is bursting with ideas to further the orchestra's artistic and financial growth. Plans for fund raising, a heightened regional profile for the ASO and improvements to the woeful acoustics of Maryland Hall come forth with clarity and enthusiasm, as does her idea to make the assistant conductorship of the orchestra a position for promising competition winners from the Peabody Conservatory.

"I've built programs like the children's concerts and the Pops Series in my time with the orchestra," she said, "and they've done exceptionally well.

"Now, I'd like to see what I can do with the wholeASO program."

After two seasons as assistant conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra in Keystone, Colo., Deal is poised to meet the next challenge of her career: a summer as one of a handful of conducting students at the most prestigious conducting school of them all -- Tanglewood.

The summer home of the Boston Symphony, Tanglewood has helped launch the careers of the best-known conductors in the world, from Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta to the podium stars of the future.

"It's the ultimate," said Deal. "It's an honor to get accepted to audition, let alone make the final cut."

With Gustav Meier, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Leon Fleisher and Marek Janowski as her teachers, Deal will be conducting the Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra in Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, Beethoven's Second Symphony, the third symphonies of Copland and Brahms, and Bernstein's "Jeremiah"Symphony. It's a dizzying prospect for a young conductor.

"I'll probably get even more excited about it once Saturday's concert is over," she said with a laugh. "It's tough to open one package when you haven't closed another."

There are other exciting prospects for the future. She returns to Annapolis next fall for her second season atthe helm of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra she helped found. Composed ofsouthern Maryland's finest young musicians, the CYSO is a joy to its conductor.

Deal eagerly awaits a piano competition that will yield the orchestra's winter concert soloist and a spring performance that will celebrate the Chesapeake Bay in music commissionedfor the orchestra.

She is also exploring conducting affiliations with orchestras in Delaware, Iowa and West Virginia.

But it is theASO post she covets most. "I've come to feel like this orchestra is my baby," she said. "I hope I don't have to put it up for adoption."

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