Youth Symphony Orchestra alumni return for concert

10th anniversary program to feature piano concerto

January 06, 2000|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If you think homecoming celebrations are the exclusive province of high school and college football programs, the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra has news for you.

Tomorrow night, as a major event in its 10th anniversary season, the the orchestra will present its first Alumni Concert at Key Auditorium on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis.

The 51 young musicians who played in the orchestra since its creation in 1990 have reconvened for four rehearsals this week and will take the stage at 7: 30 p.m. to perform the spiky Third Piano Concerto of Dmitri Kabalevsky and the exotic "Scheherazade" of Rimsky-Korsakov.

Soloists in the Kabalevsky concerto will be three talented young Maryland pianists who recently won a piano competition sponsored by the orchestra. They are 15-year-old David Burge of Crownsville; Leia Bennett, 18, of Severna Park; and Paul Bridgeland, 15, of Millersville. Each will play a movement of the concerto.

Those who conceived the idea for the reunion are the orchestra's founder and past president, Betty McGinniss; Betsy Stewart, the orchestra's manager; and conductor David Choo, who is in his second year as music director of the senior ensemble.

"It's a new millennium, and this is our 10th year in existence," Choo said. "We wanted a special kind of celebration."

The Chesapeake Youth Symphony has become one of Maryland's major performing arts organizations for young people. After beginning with one ensemble, the organization now has three: the string orchestra, the repertory orchestra and the symphony.

The orchestra's legacy of quality began with the appointment of Karen Lynne Deal as the first conductor. After two seasons, Deal left to take the associate conductorship of the Nashville Symphony. She was followed on the podium by Arne Running, Scott Speck, Mark Allan McCoy and Choo, a Peabody Conservatory product, as were most of his predecessors.

All have adhered to the orchestra's original mandate -- that talented young musicians from Anne Arundel County, the Eastern Shore and the Baltimore-Washington corridor who have staffed the orchestra since its inception would avoid arrangements and transcriptions and play only masterworks of the symphonic repertoire in their original form. Their devotion to their art and to the orchestra that nurtured them is as admirable as it is touching.

"After all," Choo said, "instead of going on vacation, they're staying home and making music together."

Ticket information: 410-263- 2664.

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