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Barry Tuckwell to lead last MSO concert

March 15, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

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Tuckwell with baton

At the start of the Feb. 22, Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert, Maestro Barry Tuckwell strode onto the stage in black tie and tails, but greeted his audience as comfortably as if he were in blue jeans.

He didn't reveal any of the nervousness he later said he felt.

"We had a great time last night, so you're in for a great treat."

He chatted a bit about the program, turned, raised his baton and conducted a perfomance that he later rated as the orchestra's best ever.

"He really makes you feel a part of it. That's why I like him so much. He's so good with people," said Richard Ashworth from his seat in the balcony during intermission.


His daughter, Lindsey, 14, who has played violin since she was 5, called Tuckwell nice and funny.

"He's lots of fun to listen to and watch," she said.

Tuckwell's final concerts as music director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra will be Saturday, March 21, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 22, at 3 p.m.

Audiences have been watching Tuckwell conduct the Maryland Symphony Orchestra since 1982.

There were four sold-out Saturday evening performances in the first season. Matinees were added the next year.

Tuckwell has never missed a performance - not even when he broke his arm before the July 1989 "Salute to Independence" concert at Antietam National Battlefield. He conducted the concert in a cast. The concerts at Antietam, which began in 1986, continue to draw audiences of 20,000 or more.

Tuckwell and hornMost recorded horn player

Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1931, Tuckwell grew up in a musical family. His father, Charles Tuckwell, was a pianist and organist. His sister, now the Countess of Harewood, was a violinist.

Barry Tuckwell, with an inherited gift of perfect pitch, played all three instruments but didn't consider himself good enough at any.

The horn was suggested by Richard Merewether, second horn in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He had a spare and gave Tuckwell his first lessons.

Tuckwell missed his first note, but made rapid progress.

He joined the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as third horn at the age of 15, moved to Sydney to study with Alan Mann, principal horn of that city's symphony orchestra. Tuckwell spent three years there as assistant first horn until he left for England at 19 to see what was going on in the "big wide world."

After stints with Buxton Spa Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, the Scottish National Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Tuckwell auditioned for the London Symphony Orchestra on the stage at the Royal Albert Hall. He was offered the first horn position at the age of 24.

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Tuckwells last concert

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