ASO baton to be passed among young conductors next season

Some who take podium said to be in contention to be next music director

February 27, 2003|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Symphony has announced the slate of guest conductors who will lead the orchestra's Classic Series concerts in the 2003-2004 season.

Buffeted in recent months by criticism over the decision not to renew the contract of music director Leslie B. Dunner, the ASO will begin looking to the future by showcasing some of the nation's highly regarded young conductors.

The slate of visitors -- some of whom might be considered for the orchestra's permanent directorship, according to ASO insiders -- includes the associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, the music directors of the Grand Rapids, Mich., and Syracuse, N.Y., symphonies and the assistant conductors of Washington's National Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Leading the orchestra this September will be Daniel Hege, now in his fourth season directing the Syracuse Symphony.

In June 2001, Hege completed a five-year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony, where he held the titles of assistant, associate and resident conductor. His recent guest-conducting engagements include concerts with the Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Oregon and Rochester symphonies.

Rossen Milanov, assistant conductor of the world-class Philadelphia Orchestra, will visit Annapolis in November. Milanov also is music director of the Haddonfield Symphony in New Jersey and conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra in his native Sofia, Bulgaria.

Lara Webber, the Baltimore Symphony's associate conductor, will ascend the Maryland Hall podium in January. Now in her third BSO season, Webber programs and conducts more than 80 concerts a year, including classical subscription, educational, Pops and "run-out" (one-day, out-of-town) concerts.

Previously, Webber was the first woman to serve as music director of the Los Angeles Debut Orchestra, a prestigious post formerly held by such distinguished maestros as Andre Previn, Lawrence Foster and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Joining the local orchestra in March 2004 will be Emil de Cou, who began his duties as assistant conductor of the National Symphony last season.

Like Dunner, de Cou has had experience in the ballet pit, where he has conducted for the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. In 1995 and 1996, he served as principal pops conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, and his recent guest-conducting engagements include appearances with the orchestras of Milwaukee, Hartford, Conn., Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston.

David Lockington, music director of Michigan's Grand Rapids Symphony, will close the ASO's season of guest conductors in May 2004. The native of Britain began his musical career as a cellist, but soon gravitated to the podium. In 1992, he was named assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony and was promoted to associate the next year.

Other posts Lockington has held include directorships of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the New Mexico Symphony and the Long Island Philharmonic. His recent guest conducting stints include the symphonies of St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis and New York City's Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Lockington will appear in Annapolis in tandem with his wife, violinist Dylana Jensen.

Even as this slate of guest-conductors is announced, a search committee is at work selecting candidates to fill the ASO directorship.

Finalists will audition during the 2004-2005 season, with a new music director expected to take the Maryland Hall stage in the fall of 2005.

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