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Mso executive director lured by small-town charm

September 17, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Jean Hamilton said it was a Maryland Symphony Orchestra concert she attended in January that sealed her dream of becoming an executive director of a small town-based symphony and now she's stepped into the role of executive director of the MSO.

Hamilton, formerly the general manager of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C., said the MSO is the smallest orchestra with which she has worked, but said it was the small community and its devotion to a high-quality symphony that struck her.

She will be planning for the 2002-2003 MSO season and said she will work with the board, community and orchestra to create "the highest possible quality concerts."

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"The community is very proud of its orchestra and it should be," she said.

Since she's only been working in the position since Sept. 3, Hamilton said it's still too early to make definite plans, but said she hopes to strengthen the orchestra's art and financial resources, reach a broader audience within the Tri-State area and expand the programs offered to children.

She said she wants to make improvements to the 65-member orchestra through her selection of music and musicians.

"We need to select a repertoire, music we play, which will please and attract the audience and will stimulate and challenge the orchestra," she said.

She said she will work with the MSO Guild to focus on recruitment of musicians and retention of core musicians. She said the orchestra has a good showing of musicians from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, which she said is a testament to the welcoming atmosphere at the MSO.

Hamilton said she hopes to draw audience members from within a 50-mile radius.

"The more people we can touch within this area, the more successful we can be," she said.

"I'd like to create a home at the MSO for all music lovers," she said.

Hamilton, a French horn player, said her education in music - a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati and a diploma from the National Centre for Orchestral Studies at the University of London - and her experience managing orchestras - from The Richmond (Va.) Symphony Orchestra with a budget of $5 million to the National Symphony Orchestra with a budget of $25 million - prepared her for her new position.

"I really wanted to work with an orchestra that meant a lot to its community," she said.

She replaces Marc Levy, who was with the MSO for seven years as executive director and who pioneered Kinder Konzerts, performances for elementary school-aged children, and many educational programs.

Levy left for New York in August to be with his wife, who found a job teaching at The State University of New York in Fredonia.

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