A Conductor In A Candy Store

Ben-dor Has The Run Of The Repertoire In Choosing This Season's Slate

April 03, 1992|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing writer

All aspiring "great" conductors (this one included) ponder their dream season -- the repertoire they'd put before an admiring public in their first season on the podium of their very own orchestra.

Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms? Or perhaps the less familiar pieces you've always loved like the Balakirev First or Nielsen's "Inextinguishable?"Your pick of the entire symphonic repertoire! My heavens, the proverbial kid in a candy store has nothing on you!

Gisele Ben-Dor, the conductor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, is one of those enviable souls who've made reality out of fantasy.

Now in the drivers seat as the ASO's programmer, the orchestra's recently announced 1992-1993 slate of concerts is fully of her own making.

Not surprisingly, the repertoire reads like a list of great pieces from the symphonic realm that an up-and-coming conductor would grab onto as soon as she had the chance.

Symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mahler; concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss; a much-admired colleague from a previous conducting post engaged as a soloist; inclusion of a "jewel in the crown" of the choral repertoire; an exciting contemporary work or two -- Ben-Dor must still be smiling.

Three of the greatest symphonies ever written are on tap for next season. Beethoven's "Eroica," the 1803 work that grabbed music by the throat and propelled it single-handedly into the 19th century, will be performed at the October concerts.

Gustav Mahler's "kindest, gentlest" Fourth Symphony, with its famous concluding movement in which the soprano soloist evokes a child's visionof heaven, graces the Maryland Hall stage in February. And Tchaikovsky's dramatic F-minor Symphony brings the season to a close next spring.

An interesting group of soloists has been engaged as well.

William Ver Meulen, principal horn of the Houston Symphony, will playconcertos by Mozart and Richard Strauss here next fall. Ben-Dor, formerly an associate conductor of the Houston ensemble, was so impressed by his playing that she booked him as soon as she had the chance, according to ASO manager Patricia Edwards.

Chicago Symphony co-concertmaster Ruben Gonzalez, who collaborated with former ASO conductor Peter Bay on a rather dry-eyed but extremely musical Mendelssohn concerto a few years back, returns for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto inMarch.

Anton Nel, the Eastman pianist bumped from this concert season by the rescheduling that followed Ben-Dor's appointment to the ASO last June, comes to Annapolis in February to play the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto.

Two young cellists from Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, David Teie and Steven Hunigberg have been championing the Double Concerto of David Ott to much critical acclaim, and next April, they will bring the work to Annapolis.

"It's a knockout," said Edwards. "I think our audiences will love it."

Ben-Dor collaborates with area musical forces for the first time in November when the Annapolis Chorale, under the direction of Ernest Green, joins the ASO for a pair of performances of the Mozart Requiem.

Mozart, Strauss, Beethoven, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, with a little Bach, Smetana, Rossini and Barber thrown in for good measure. Ben-Dor must still be grinning from ear to ear.

As one of the greatest undiscovered conducting talents of our age, I know I would be.


OCT. 2-3, 1992, 8 P.M.

Gisele Ben-Dor: Conductor

William Ver Meulen: French Horn

Rossini: Overture to "La Scala di Seta"

Mozart: Concerto for French Horn & Orchestra No.2, K.147

Richard Straus: Concerto for French Horn & Orchestra No.1

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat, "Eroica"

NOV. 6-7, 1992, 8 P.M.

Gisele Ben-Dor: Conductor

The Annapolis Chorale, Ernest Green, Director

Soloists: TBA

Kernis: "Musica Celestis"

Mozart: Arias, TBA

Mozart: Requiem, K. 626

FEB. 12-13, 1993, 8 P.M.

Gisele Ben-Dor: Conductor

Anton Nel: Piano

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C-minor

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G-major

MARCH 5-6, 1993, 8 P.M.

Gisele Ben-Dor: Conductor

Ruben Gonzalez: Violin

Smetana: "The Moldau"

Richard Strauss: Suite from "Der Rosen Kavalier"

Barber: Essay No. 1

Tchaikovsky: Concerto forViolin and Orchestra in D-major

APRIL 23-24, 1993, 8 P.M.

Gisele Ben-Dor: Conductor

David Teie: Cello

Steven Honigberg: Cello

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

Ott: Concerto for Two Cellos and Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F-minor

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