Annapolis flutist will leave

Valerio wins appointment with St. Louis Symphony for the 2002-2003 season

March 28, 2002|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Kimberly Valerio, the gifted flutist in her fourth year in the Annapolis Symphony's principal chair, will leave the orchestra after this season to begin a one-year appointment as second flute in the St. Louis Symphony.

Chosen from among six applicants for the post, the graduate of Baltimore's Peabody Institute will spend the 2002-2003 season playing alongside her Peabody mentor, Mark Sparks, who holds the principal chair in St. Louis.

"This is overwhelming, just huge," Valerio says. "I'm excited, but I have my work cut out for me. It will be a learning experience, that's for sure."

Valerio, 32, whose clear, songful tone has played a major role in heightening the artistic profile of the Annapolis Symphony during conductor Leslie Dunner's four years with the orchestra, has become one of the region's busiest instructors and players.

While teaching at St. Mary's College, Peabody's Preparatory Division and in her private studio of 15 students, she has been solo flute with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony in Easton and the Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra at St. Mary's College. Valerio substitutes regularly with the Baltimore Symphony and heads to Florida several times a year as principal flute of the Key West Symphony.

"One of the biggest thrills about St. Louis is the opportunity to work one job, to be able to really focus on my playing," she says. "That's a big thing for me."

Valerio will be joining one of the finest American orchestras.

In its 122nd season, the St. Louis Symphony rose to national and international prominence during the 25-year tenure of Leonard Slatkin, the orchestra's laureate conductor who left the Midwest in 1996 and is now music director of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra.

Under the direction of the Dutch conductor Hans Vonk, the St. Louis Symphony continues in the grand tradition that has led it to six Grammy awards and 56 Grammy nominations.

Like all members of the orchestra, Valerio will participate in the Community Partnership Program - the nation's first orchestral outreach venture - in which she will teach, coach and perform at schools and elsewhere in the St. Louis area.

In her new ensemble, Valerio will be joining former Annapolis Symphony colleague Tage Larsen, who plays second trumpet in the St. Louis brass section. "A friendly face will be greatly appreciated," she says with a laugh.

Other musicians engaged by the local orchestra who have moved on to higher-profile ensembles include timpanist Dean Borghesani, with the Milwaukee Symphony, and violinist Natalia Bogachek, who was snapped up by the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra before she could take her assistant concertmaster's chair under Dunner's baton.

"Our players are coming through flawlessly," Dunner says. "We're sad when an artist as wonderful as Kim leaves us, but we also share in her happiness. The success of our musicians with these excellent orchestras tells us we were looking for exactly the right things when we hired them."

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