Local performing arts hit highs, lows in 1992 Annapolis youth chorus among best

ANNE ARUNDEL DIVERSIONS

January 08, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

Everyone else has gotten to do this, so why shouldn't I? Without further ado, let's review the highs and lows of 1992 on the Anne Arundel arts beat.

* Most Hectic Weekend for a Musician in Multiple Roles: Dr. John Barry Talley, director of musical activities at the Naval Academy, who married off a daughter at the Academy Chapel on Saturday, then proceeded to conduct Handel's "Messiah" there on Sunday and Monday.

* Best Newcomers/Pre-Teen Division: The Annapolis Youth Chorus. The indefatigable Ernie Green is at it again. These kids aren't just cute. They sound good!

* Most Intriguing Newcomer: Arne Running, the new conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra. Preliminary notices are excellent. I, for one, can't wait for Mendelssohn's "Reformation" Symphony at Key Auditorium on the St. John's College campus Jan. 23.

* Saddest News: The disbanding of the Annapolis Brass Quintet. Christmas won't seem like Christmas without David, Wayne, Sharon, the two Bobs and their musical pals over at St. Anne's. Thank you, though, for all excellent music-making over the years. Your audiences have been blessed.

* Best Step Up the Ladder: Karen Deal, the Annapolis Symphony's former resident conductor, takes a new podium as assistant conductor of the up and coming Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

* Best Lips of '92: William Ver Meulen, principal French horn of the Houston Symphony who soloed so splendidly in the concertos of Mozart and Strauss with the ASO in October. What chops!

* Most Ambitious Undertaking by an Organization That Actually Got Away With It: A three-way tie. The Annapolis Opera had a highly commendable go at Puccini's "La Boheme" in October. Gisele Ben-Dor's account of the Berlioz "Symphonie Fantastique" with the ASO was a genuine tour-de-force. And how about the Annapolis Chorale's sizzling traversal of the murderous Requiem of Giuseppe Verdi in the spring. At these last two events, Maryland Hall -- sonic wasteland that it is -- never sounded so good!

* Best Kept Secret: The closing of the Annapolis Dinner Theater. Come see "Oklahoma!" Send your kids to camp here! A sell-out crowd on Thursday. Padlocks on the door on Friday. There's no business like show business. YUK.

* Best Represented Instrument of the Year: The piano. Hands down. (Tee hee.) There was extraordinary Rachmaninoff and Mozart from John Browning in January and exquisite Debussy and Ravel from Minoru Nojima up in Severna Park in the spring. And Russian emigre Vladimir Feltsman positively nailed the second Bach Partita and Schumann's "Carnival" at the Naval Academy in the fall. Aficionados of the keyboard had an excellent year.

* Biggest Threat to Annapolis in 1992: Yogurt.

* Projected Biggest Threat to Annapolis in 1993: Large restaurant kitchens.

* Best Dramatic Play of 1992: Colonial Players' "The Boys Next Door," a searing look at the lives of the mentally retarded. A wonderful play. A marvelous cast.

* Best Comedy of 1992: The achingly funny "The Colored Museum" put on by T. G. Cooper's Pamoja Ensemble in August. In this tragi-comic romp through black America, there were no sacred cows.

* Biggest Disgrace: The lack of community support for "The Colored Museum." Suppose a cast moved mountains and nobody came?

* Best Original Play: The Annapolis Theater Project's hilarious spoof of the '92 election, "Undecided." I still can't look at a picture of Ross Perot without laughing at Duncan Hood's Mr. Spock ears.

* Best Actor: Tom Boynton's stunning portrayal of Lucien, the gentle old retarded man in "The Boys Next Door." His heart-rending monologue given as he briefly assumed a rational persona was truly a transcendent moment.

* Best Actress: Nori Morton showed she could play for a laugh with the best of them in the Annapolis Summer Garden Theater's production of "Chicago." The disgust she registered as she broke a nail while shooting her boyfriend was one of the funniest takes I've ever seen.

* Best Newcomer/Literary Division: Barnes and Noble comes to town and stitches shut a major hole in our cultural fabric. Let's see: a bookstore, a Tower Records, minor league baseball is coming to Bowie. If someone would just open up an honest-to-God deli, I could die here a happy man. Maybe in '93. After all, a man's only as good as his dream.

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