Conductor's goodbye to explore emotions

Finale: Catherine L. Ferguson will lead her last concert Saturday as Columbia Orchestra's director.

May 20, 1999|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Any concert featuring Beethoven's 3rd "Leonore" Overture, Gustav Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder," Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and the Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius is a special event on its own merits.

The Columbia Orchestra's final concert of the season at 8 p.m. Saturday at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre takes on a significance that goes beyond even this celestial repertoire. It will be Catherine L. Ferguson's last as music director.

After nine years at the ensemble's helm, she leaves to do further graduate study. She will be succeeded on the Columbia podium next season by a fellow Peabody Conservatory alumnus, Jason Love.

Love, conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony's Repertory Orchestra in Annapolis, has received excellent notices for his work with the Greater Baltimore Youth Symphony Orchestra, and at the North Carolina School for the Arts. He won the unanimous approval of the orchestra's search committee, which evaluated 62 applicants.

Before turning the orchestra over to her successor, Ferguson will conduct Saturday's remarkably diverse program, which explores a stunning number of the nooks and crannies in music's emotional realm.

Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder," or Songs on the Death of Children, is a profoundly sad and beautiful commentary on grief and loss composed by a genius on intimate terms with both.

The songs will be sung by New York City mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Knauer, who is known locally for her work at Peabody and with the Baltimore and Washington opera companies.

For the fresh, rustic innocence of uniquely American fare, you can't do better than Copland's ballet score, "Appalachian Spring," which will be heard in the composer's chamber version for 13 woodwinds and piano.

And for sheer, unbridled heroism, who could ask for more than Sibelius' stirring Fifth Symphony, or the triumphant trumpet calls that dot Beethoven's "Leonore" No. 3.

Tickets remaining on the day of the concert will be sold at the door of the Smith Theatre for $12 each.

Information, reservations and group discounts: 410-381-2004.

Pub Date: 5/20/99

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