Conductor ends his tenure with an orchestral triumph

May 27, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to the Sun

Before he announced his resignation as director Sunday, Arne Running led the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra in an extraordinary season-ending concert that seemed to sum up the very essence of his two year tenure with the ensemble.

As in the other concerts of his CYSO hitch, there was no babying of the troops; not with excerpts from Copland's "Rodeo," selections from "West Side Story" and the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven on the evening's bill of fare.

And the players rose to each challenge in the program. Once again, the 70-member ensemble jumped into the emotional frame of the music.

Also striking is the extent to which Maestro Running inspires his young charges to modify the character of their playing as the repertoire changes.

In "West Side Story," his strings adopted that silky sheen that distinguishes a "Pops" orchestra, a sound that would have been totally out of place in Beethoven or in the stylish country fiddlin' of the Hoe-Down from Aaron Copland's "Rodeo."

A fine orchestra has to be able to change its musical style on a dime and that's just what these youngsters did.

Running's successor will inherit a well-trained group. The front four cellists graduate this year and move on; otherwise the strings remain intact.

Anthony McGovern, an accomplished young oboist, has been added to the woodwind section and it is hoped he will return. Without him, the performance of the Beethoven symphony would have been out of the question.

The brass section, which sounded fantastic at Sunday's concert, loses principal horn John Allanbrook for a year's sabbatical in California, while two trumpets move on, leaving principal Jan Mager to lead a new section. The rest of the brass players remain.

As for the departing Mr. Running, he has impressed me as an inspirational musician who conveys his love and respect for music every second he's on the podium. The orchestra he leaves is a stronger, more accomplished ensemble than the one he inherited. And, most importantly, some very talented youngsters have been privileged to know and feel some of the greatest music ever written.

Without a doubt, he'll be a tough act to follow.

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