It is fitting that Leslie Dunner is the third of four candidates for the directorship of the Annapolis Symphony to be plying his trade on the Maryland Hall podium this season because as a conductor, composer and clarinetist, he is truly a triple-strength musical talent.
A baby boomer who is reluctant to reveal his age, Dunner has been resident conductor of the first-class Detroit Symphony for 10 years and has been music director of the Symphony of Nova Scotia in Canada for two seasons.
Dunner has conducted symphonic, ballet and opera performances in North America and around the world, including England, Russia, Italy, Denmark and South America.
This weekend, he will accompany opera favorites by Verdi and Puccini, along with soprano Kishna Davis. Also on the program will be the sumptuously colorful "Scheherazade," by Rimsky-Korsakov, and "Fountain Fanfares," composed by Dunner. The maestro crafted the work in tribute to David and Margaret Fountain, whose generosity kept his Symphony of FTC Nova Scotia alive when it nearly folded in 1995, hence the title.
Dunner also is a fine instrumentalist who could be heard in the Maryland Hall practice rooms this week whooping it up with the hyperactive leaps and skips of Franz Krommer's Clarinet Concerto, which he will perform for the Canadian Broadcasting Co. later this month.
"I conduct, I compose, and I play," he said with a chuckle during a brief break between Krommer and a rehearsal with the ASO strings Tuesday afternoon. "I try to have a life in addition to all that, but I usually fail."
Dunner's background is as diverse as it is accomplished. A native of New York City and a graduate of its High School of Music and Arts, he pursued a college degree in optical engineering before deciding that music would be his future.
After completing his studies, he taught at Carleton College in Minnesota before getting any serious conducting offers.
If he gets the Annapolis job, local audiences could count on inventive programming and a willingness to have the orchestra perform in conjunction with other institutions.
"We're truly a multimedia society," the conductor said, "and are getting more so every day. Orchestras should have a presence in theaters, art galleries, even science museums. We have to take advantage of performance opportunities out there in the community."
Dunner is engaged not so much by melody as by the inner workings of musical undercurrents.
"It's the intricacies of the symphonic repertoire that really attract me," he said of "Scheherazade." "It is so innovative. In terms of rhythmic diversity and orchestral color, it's the most exotic piece ever written, bar none."
For tickets to this weekend's concerts, which begin at 8 p.m., call 410-269-1132.
Pub Date: 2/05/98