A Saturday sampler shows bounty of Annapolis' classical music culture

September 22, 1992|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

Let history record: Saturday, Sept. 19, 1992, was a good day for the arts in Annapolis.

In the basement of Calvary United Methodist Church on Rowe Boulevard, the 60-plus musicians of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra spent several hours in intense rehearsal at its third annual CYSO "Retreat," the ensemble's customary method of opening its season in earnest.

And a mile or so away, it was time for Maryland Hall's "Picnic With the Arts," an annual event designed to showcase all that wonderful creative energy being expended inside the venerable structure at Greenfield and Constitution streets.

"It's our yearly gift to the community," said Michael Bailey, the Hall's executive director. "And it was truly a Maryland Hall family event. All of our major organizations -- the Annapolis Symphony, the Ballet Theater, the Annapolis Chorale -- pitched in to share all that we do with the community."

The youth symphony's retreat is "a wonderful way for the kids to get to know each other," said Betty McGinnis, president of the orchestra board, as she packed lunches for the youngsters.

"They do concentrated work on this season's repertoire. And this year it's especially important since they're getting to know Arne Running, our new conductor."

Mr. Running, one of the Philadelphia area's premier clarinetists and conductor of the Swarthmore College Orchestra, was chosen last month from among the 50 candidates vying for the CYSO post.

At Saturday's retreat, he showed some of the intense musicianship that attracted the selection committee's attention when the orchestra encountered some of the complex rotation Georges Bizet included in his "L'Arlesienne Suites."

"Let's talk about this," Running began collegially. "Look at the clever thing Bizet has done. You play the flagged note in your part until the beginning of the next measure, then you drop out. He's so exact about the diminuendo effect he wants that he's giving instructions in every bar. Bach would have dreamed about being that specific." He concludes: "Now, let's do it in slow motion to see how it works."

A short musicology seminar before lunch.

David Shriner, a 14-year-old violinist, heartily approved. "This guy seems really neat," said the Broadneck High freshman. "I like the way he does things, especially the way he gets into the music. He really gets us into it."

"I'm genuinely thrilled with the potential of this orchestra," said Maestro Running.

He will be conducting Sibelius' recently unearthed "Andante Festivo," his own compilation of Bizet's "L'Arlesienne Suites," and the inspiring "Reformation" Symphony of Mendelssohn at his first CYSO concert in January.

"They're already playing in a mature, thoroughly professional way," he said. "We got through the entire last movement of the "Reformation" on Thursday and I think they're going to be excellent."

The orchestra still is a bit short-handed, however.

Any interested trombonists, bassoonists, French horn and tuba players should call 647-7182 to set up an audition. Post haste!

Of course, the CYSO is not all work, as Saturday's retreat proves. Surveying his troops talking, munching doughnuts and banging out "Heart and Soul" on the piano during break, Arne Running laughs. "Fun is a great leavening agent for work," he says.

At the Maryland Hall picnic, emissaries from all of its troupes were on hand to entertain the crowd, which grew quite large after the morning's intermittent showers had passed.

A string quartet from the Annapolis Chorale Chamber Orchestra presented a particularly lovely program highlighted by the "Ashokan Farewell," that haunting melody that lent such character to the Ken Burns documentary series on the Civil War. A medley from "Les Miserables" also was a treat.

This year, for the first time, a crafts fair was included, along with the workshops and demonstrations that have made the "Picnic With the Arts" so rewarding in the past.

Elizabeth Welch, co-director of First Night Annapolis, was there to remind one and all that the "Call to Artists" has gone out and that talent is now officially being solicited for the New Year's Eve extravaganza, now in it's third year locally.

In Annapolis, the arts never stop, which -- come to think of it -- is due in no small part to Maryland Hall itself.

Definitely, a building worth celebrating!

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