Londontowne Symphony prepares second season

Orchestra: The spirited 40-member group on a tight budget will present three concerts at Southern High School auditorium.

Arundel Live

September 02, 2004|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The runaway surprise of the 2003-04 concert season was the Londontowne Symphony, which quickly became Anne Arundel County's version of "the little orchestra that could."

Founded on a shoestring budget by Severna Park violinist and county instrumental music teacher Kathy Solano, the 40-member ensemble made up of teachers, college professors, retired Naval Academy bandsmen, community instrumentalists, students and a few strategically placed professional players mounted a three-concert season at Southern High School with a trio of volunteer conductors and wound up providing more than its share of enjoyable music.

Still bereft of corporate support and very much on a shoestring, the plucky Londontowners return to the Southern High School auditorium Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. to begin the second season under the baton of Richard Scerbo, the Southern High alumnus and graduate student in conducting at the University of Maryland.

It was Scerbo who did such a creditable job at the orchestra's inaugural concert a year ago. This time, he will conduct works by Haydn, Mozart, Faure and Vaughan Williams.

Franz Joseph Haydn's C major Cello Concerto is music of tremendous heart; one of the brightest, jauntiest, most unaffected of all 18th-century concertos, and one of the supreme masterpieces for the mellifluous cello. Scerbo will be joined by cellist Frank McKinster.

In the same vein is the A-major Symphony (K. 201) of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a dashing work by a precociously talented 18-year-old out to meld the formulaic hustle and bustle of his symphonic youth with the melodic lyricism that would soon raise him to the highest reaches of the musical pantheon.

Many would call this the first Mozart symphony touched by greatness, though the Little G Minor (No. 25, K. 183) - composed a year earlier in 1783 - may have dibs on that claim.

Rounding out the opening program will be Gabriel Faure's lovely score composed to accompany Maurice Maeterlinck's play, Pelleas et Melisande, and Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves, a sumptuous treatment of the familiar melody dominated by flute, harp and strings.

Two additional Londontowne concerts fill out the season.

On Jan. 14, Shawn Burke-Storer, assistant conductor of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony's Repertory Orchestra, will conduct Mozart's G major Flute Concerto and the New World Symphony of Antonin Dvorak.

Soloing in the Mozart Concerto will be Chester Burke, the St. John's College tutor who doubles as principal flute of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

June 3, Londontowne plans to complete its second season under the baton of Julien Benichou, the dynamic French conductor who has spent the past season revitalizing the artistic fortunes of Annapolis' Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Benichou will conduct Felix Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, and Ludwig van Beethoven's monumental Symphony No. 5.

The Londontowne Symphony begins its 2004-05 concert season at Southern High School in Harwood Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. A $15 donation is requested at the door; $25 per couple. 301-367-4018.

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