A rising star is new AACC conductor

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Arundel Live

October 20, 2006|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

Anna Binneweg has embraced her role as director and conductor of the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra. Binneweg, 30, is already a national rising star who has compiled an impressive resume. She has already begun rehearsing the 60-member group for its Dec. 15 concert.

"Anna is a most talented young conductor - energetic, enthusiastic and technically proficient - and I am extremely pleased that she has joined us," said music department chairman Doug Byerly.

Theater department chairwoman Barbara Marder said Binneweg, who joined the school in August as an adjunct professor, "is not only quite talented, she is also warm and very approachable."

Binnewig, a native of Lake Tahoe, Calif., grew up skiing and playing the clarinet in a high school band.

She received her doctorate in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University in June, having earlier received a double master's degree in instrumental conducting and music education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

In 2005, she was selected for the National Conductors Institute, where she became a cover conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra.

Now a resident of Alexandria, Va., Binneweg is also music director of the Chicago-based OperaModa, a female-led company that was formed four years ago by a group of Northwestern graduates. Its mission is to perform modern American operas and to feature young artists in the Chicago area.

"This mission has proven to broaden our audiences and reach out to the younger generation of opera goers," she said.

My introduction to Binneweg was delayed because of her commitment to OperaModa. She was recently in Chicago conducting "A Month in the Country" by Lee Hoiby.

OperaModa's formula, according to a 2005 article in Time Out Chicago, is to find American operas based on familiar stories since it has the means to produce only one opera a year.

OperaModa is also an all-female show on the administrative side, in a field where most opera companies are run by men.

Women conductors in opera have come a long way since Sarah Caldwell became the first woman to conduct a Metropolitan Opera performance in 1976. Binneweg said that half her Northwestern conducting class was female.

Our area boasts a progressive record, having had Israeli native Gisele Ben-Dor at the helm of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1991 through 1997.

More recently, Marin Alsop became the first woman conductor to head a major American orchestra as music director designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

At the community college, where most orchestra members are drawn from the community, Binneweg said that building "a strong rapport with the orchestra has not at all been difficult because they all have the right attitude and are all eager to perform while continuing to master their instrumental craft, and they know that I can help them achieve this."

"We all have a common goal in mind, which is to continue to build and strengthen our orchestra program by focusing on the great orchestral repertoire while reaching out to the community through music," Binneweg said.

On Dec. 1 and Dec. 3, she will bring her opera conducting skills to Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Byerly serving as director.

On Dec. 15, in the only full concert of the semester, Binneweg will conduct Gliere's Russian Sailor's Dance, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8.

Tickets for "Amahl" will go on sale Nov. 13. Tickets for the orchestra concert will go on sale Dec. 11 and will be available by calling the box office at 410-777-2457.

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