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MSO to hold auditions

July 14, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will hold auditions to fill 18 openings, about one-fourth of the orchestra, in September, according to Managing Director Marc Levy.

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The number of openings, roughly three times above normal, is high because last year symphony officials decided not to hold auditions in the absence of a music director, Levy said. Usually there are six to eight openings a year, he said.

Barry Tuckwell, the world-renowned French horn player, resigned as music director of the MSO in March 1998. Tuckwell was the Hagerstown-based symphony's founding music director and conductor for its first 16 concert seasons.

Elizabeth Schulze, formerly associate conductor of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, was chosen the MSO's new music director last March.

"No one left because Mr. Tuckwell left ... Even this year we're not losing anybody to the fact that we have a new music director," Levy said.

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Principal timpanist Joseph J. McIntyre agreed.

"I don't think there's any connection whatsoever there. Everybody I talked to really liked the new conductor," McIntyre said.

"There's always been a lot of turnover, in the strings especially," McIntyre said.

With many young musicians in the part-time MSO there is a lot of turnover as members finish their education and move on to better teaching and playing jobs with higher pay and huge time commitments, according to Schulze, Levy and symphony members.

Violinist Jo Nardolillo is joining the Atlanta Opera, principal violist Christopher Shieh is busy with the Marine Band and violist Laura Shuster is moving to Cleveland, Levy said.

Schulze said holding auditions to fill so many openings is "a huge gift to an incoming music director."

"I can start to build an orchestra that really kind of achieves the kind of sounds and approach to playing that I'm looking for," said Schulze in a telephone interview from Iowa.

Schulze said she is looking for musicians who are technically proficient and whose performances are passionate and expressive.

Schulze said the talent level is so high in the orchestra that she wants to hire musicians who will meet or challenge that level.

It's possible Schulze may not fill all the openings this season. She could wait to find musicians who fit what she's looking for rather than just fill seats, she said.

The orchestra has from 72 to 80 members, Levy said.

The 18 openings are for six violinists, four violists, three cellists, two French horn players, a string bassist, a percussionist and a harpist.

Levy said he expects close to 100 people to audition on Sept. 1-2 at the Four Points Hotel on Dual Highway.

The symphony also will hold auditions for substitute players for all instruments, giving local musicians a chance to audition.

Substitutes are used when a symphony member is sick or has an engagement with another orchestra. Some MSO members also play with the Baltimore Lyric Opera or Washington Opera or for orchestras in Annapolis, Harrisburg, Pa., or Fairfax, Va., Levy said.

Openings during the past year were filled with substitutes, Levy said.

The symphony will continue to use substitutes for the upcoming season's first three concerts on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9 and 10, Levy said.

Musicians selected from the upcoming auditions are expected to join the symphony for the Nov. 13 and 14 concerts, he said.

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