Youth symphony conductor prepares debut ANNE ARUNDEL DIVERSIONS

January 22, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

The year may be new, but one of its most important debuts will take place tomorrow evening.

Arne Running, the recently appointed conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra, takes the podium for his first full-length concert at Key Auditorium on the campus of St. John's College. The program will include works by Sibelius, Bizet and Mendelssohn.

Mr. Running, 48, music director of the Swarthmore College Orchestra of Pennsylvania, was selected from among 50 applicants last August to succeed Karen Deal, the CYSO's founding conductor. Ms. Deal became the assistant conductor of the Nashville Symphony.

One of the Philadelphia area's most sought-after free-lancers, Mr. Running is principal clarinet for the Concert Soloists of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra. He also substitutes regularly with the vaunted Philadelphia Orchestra.

He can now add to his responsibilities the leadership of an orchestra made up of teen-agers from Anne Arundel County, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

Mr. Running is also a noted composer whose "Concertino for English Horn and String Orchestra" was commissioned and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra with no less a maestro than Leonard Slatkin on the podium.

The new conductor never gave his profession a serious thought until 1979, when a colleague asked him to take over the orchestra of the Jenkintown Music School in suburban Philadelphia. He agreed, and the experience continues to define his life.

"I live for those two hours on the podium, to be close to magnificent music," he says. "It never ceases to amaze me what actually happens in a good performance, how an orchestra's playing can so totally reflect the personality and level of preparation of the conductor."

Thus far, that almost mystical relationship between the conductor and the players seems to be going great guns. "I'm very impressed with these kids," he says proudly. "I'm impressed with the level of commitment they're giving at each and every rehearsal. You know, the personality of the conductor doesn't always have to fit in with the players, but I think it's been a great relationship."

His principal trumpet agrees. "I really like playing for him," says Michael Johnson, a junior at Broadneck High School. "He takes an interest in us and makes us want to practice music. He gives us a lot of reason to really want to."

Mr. Running's first concert will feature Sibelius' flowing "Andante Festivo," the maestro's own arrangement of Bizet's "L'Arlesienne Suites" and the "Reformation" symphony of Felix Mendelssohn.

"It's a true challenge for kids to play a symphony like this one, with its technical problems and profound religious aspects," says the conductor, "but I'm looking forward to it immensely. I hope people will hear a performance that is dramatic and involving. I don't think they'll just hear kids. In fact, I know they won't."

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