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Concert to showcase conductor, young violinist

The Gwinnett Performing Arts Center continues to be a choice venue for performing arts organizations. At 7 p.m. Sunday, the New Atlanta Philharmonic will fill the hall with the beautiful melodies of Debussy, Korngold and Beethoven. The concert will be conducted by a legendary figure at the height of his career, and the guest soloist will be a young musician just beginning to make his ascent.

The New Atlanta Philharmonic will present conductor Michael Palmer at the helm of this orchestra which is celebrating its second season. The youthful soloist, 17-year-old Ian Wong, will be performing the Korngold Violin Concerto.

The orchestra itself is in the process of obtaining its 501(c)3 tax exempt status. It is part of a greater whole which includes the New Atlanta Conservatory located at 3802 Satellite Boulevard in Duluth, the New Atlanta Youth Orchestra and the Atlanta Youth Chorale.

Music director and founder of all of this activity is Eugene Lee. Lee served as a graduate assistant to Palmer, and so it was natural he obtained this masterful teacher for a conducting workshop which concludes Sunday. This is the second year for the workshop as well. The concert, open to the public, will be a grand finale to the busy week.

Palmer is a familiar name to those knowledgeable of Atlanta's orchestral history. Palmer began his career as an assistant conductor to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the late 1960s and was soon promoted to associate conductor. In 1974, he became the founder and music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has been the conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and founded the American Sinfonietta in 1991. He returned to Atlanta in 2004 as the orchestral director for Georgia State University and has been honored with the title of Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies.

Looking at the event's soloist, Wong has already earned many distinguished credits to his resume. He has served as concertmaster of the National Honor Orchestra of America. He has toured Italy, France and played in New York City's Carnegie Hall where he not only performed on violin but also on viola, piano and flute.

Lee is very excited to be presenting the orchestra, Palmer and Wong to Gwinnett audiences. He said, "We welcome Mr. Palmer's conducting. He's one of the greatest conductors of our time. Ian Wong is a very talented young musician from Irvine, California. He's proof that Gwinnett County is developing multiculturally and building up the cultural mood."

The program will also include Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and Beethoven's "Symphony No. 3." Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. They can be obtained through Ticketmaster at 404-249-6400 or through the Gwinnett Center Box Office. To find out more about the New Atlanta Philharmonic, visit the Web site at www.newatlantaphil.org. For more information about Palmer, visit www.michaelpalmerconducting.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.