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MSO guest conductor doesn't miss a beat

November 15, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

Markand Thakar, the second of four candidates for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's music director's position, had to improvise the minute he stepped on the stage during Prelude, the preconcert discussion before Saturday night's performance.

Soloist Terrence Wilson, whom Thakar described as a "brilliant young virtuoso pianist," walked out with Thakar, instead of later as the conductor expected.

Neither was fazed. "It's really no problem if you miss your cues before the concert," Thakar said.

Relaxed and casual, the 23-year-old Wilson in turtleneck, jeans and shoes with 2-inch-thick soles, chatted first about the second piece on the evening's program.

People have asked him how he chose Prokofiev's "Piano Concerto No. 3," a real barn burner, Thakar said.

"I didn't. You did," he said to Wilson.

When he was 10 years old, Wilson saw the movie "The Competition" and immediately asked his mother to find the music for him. Playing the Prokofiev is "a true honor," he said.

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Thakar also talked about the evening's first selection, the "delightful" overture to Mozart's infrequently performed opera, "The Impressario."

He contrasted the brash and confident personalities of Mozart and Prokofiev with that of Tchaikovsky, whom he described as a tortured human being.

Thakar set the stage for Tchaikovsky's writing of his fourth symphony, the second half of the evening's program. He composed it while emotionally distraught over his unfortunate marriage.

"The power comes from Tchaikovsky's expression of the torment in sound," Thakar explained.

The weekend's performances serve as an audition for Thakar. The audience responded enthusiastically.

"It's wonderful," said Barbara Clopper of Hagerstown, who along with her husband, Charles Clopper, is a first-time season ticket holder.

"I think it was an exciting performance - the piano concerto," said Linda Shade of St. Thomas, Pa., a season ticket holder for five or six years.

The audience seemed to agree. An enthusiastic "Yah" escaped from one man after the first movement and the nearly full house applauded in agreement.

The standing ovation at the end of the concerto was loud and long.

Henry Sines of Hagerstown has been listening to the MSO for nine or 10 years. "Excellent, very good. Very sharp. The orchestra sounded good," he said.

Gerry Philp and his family moved to Hagerstown from Canada about four months ago. His son, Nicholas, 15, a trumpet player in North Hagerstown High School's band, said he'd rather be sleeping.

"It's OK," said Adrian, 12, a clarinet player. But his father reminded him of what he had said before intermission. "It was good," Adrian admitted.

Frank Bomar of Hagerstown has been attending MSO performances for about 10 years. He called Saturday's performance and Thakar's conducting very good. He doesn't envy whoever has to make the decision on the conductor, he said.

The MSO will perform again today at The Maryland Theatre at 3 p.m. Prelude, the preconcert discussion, will begin at 2 p.m.

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