Leslie Dunner, the third conductor seeking the music director position for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, led a concert that careened wildly between styles Saturday night. All four compositions were written in the 20th century by composers of different countries: the United States, Germany, Latvia, and Italy.

Maestro Dunner is currently conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy as well as interim artistic director of the South Shore Opera Company (Chicago). He is also the first American prize-winner of the Toscanini International Conducting Competition. The soloist for the evening, mezzo-soprano Gina Perregrino, is primarily known for her opera performances with the opera companies of Atlanta, Minnesota, St. Louis, Santa Fe, and more.

The evening opened with “Three Dance Episodes” from On the Town (1944) by Leonard Bernstein (US, 1918-90). The work began as a Jerome Robbins ballet (Fancy Free), reworked to become the Broadway musical, and eventually became a motion picture in 1949. The “Three Dance Episodes” is derived from the musical.

One can hear hints of Stravinsky, the blues, and some sounds and rhythms that would end up in the composer’s West Side Story. Dunner’s appropriate swaggering conducting led the GSO with particularly fine playing from the brass and the percussionists.

Up next was The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) by Kurt Weill (Germany, 1900-1950); it was originally a “sung ballet,” with satirical libretto by Bertolt Brecht (Germany, 1898-1956). The work features Anna, a young woman with two different personas (singer and dancer) who is sent away by her parents for seven years to make money for their new house. In Saturday night’s performance, Perregrino was accompanied by a quartet of male singers depicting members of her family: UNCG graduates William Edwards (tenor), Zachary Taylor (tenor), Reginald Powell (bass) and UNCG professor Robert Wells (baritone), all using headset microphones.

This is a sultry, vampy, and dark look at what a woman must do to make money, with the “deadly sins” (Sloth, Pride, etc.) represented by the heroine’s travels to seven US cities. Perregrino, stage right, acted the character with minimal props and a couple of costume changes (off stage) while the quartet of men sang comments stage left. The mezzo half spoke/half sang the role, although the vocal score has very few spoken words. Perregrino’s delivery was strong and compelling; unfortunately, her mic cut out frequently, making it difficult to hear all the words. The distinctive banjo/guitar part was perfectly played by Wiley Porter. The GSO intently followed the clear direction of Dunner.

I had never heard of the composer Emīls Dārziņš (Latvia, 1875-1910) before this performance; his major contributions were in choral works and art songs. His Valse mélancolique is his only surviving orchestral work, as he destroyed all the rest because of “fierce negative criticism from other Latvian composers” as well as from Jean Sibelius.

This is a lovely, lilting piece, lasting about seven minutes. One hears Tchaikovsky’s influence in the sweet melodies and rich harmonies. Clarinetist Kelly Burke sensitively played the prominent clarinet solo. Dunner’s conducting took on a gentler style, perfectly fitting for the composition.

The evening closed out with the bombastic and colorful Feste Romane (Roman Festivals) (1928) written for a huge orchestra by Ottorino Respighi (Italy, 1879-1936). The four movements, each depicting a Roman celebration, begins with “Circus Maximus.” A brass ensemble, playing from the balcony, added to the drama of this fiery story of gladiators.

“The Jubilee” depicts a ceremony dating back to the 1300s, a pilgrimage of Christians to Rome. The opening is soft and subdued but the procession becomes more animated and heroic as the group approaches Rome. A climax is reached—brass, winds, strings, and percussion are fully employed to good effect—before softer church bells are heard.

The third movement, “The October Harvest,” is a relaxed celebration of the harvest and hunt. A horn solo (superbly played here and throughout the concert by Robert Campbell) and a mandolin (perfectly played by hornist David Doyle) added distinctive color.

The barnburner finale “The Epiphany” celebrated in the Piazza Navona, pulls out all the stops: 10 percussionists (!) are needed to depict this boisterous movement portraying crowds including a drunken reveler (solo trombone soberly played by Brian French). Dunner’s majestic conducting fit the score to a T, and he acknowledged many soloists heard through the course of the work.

A few complaints that have little to do with the GSO’s playing: the microphone outages have already been mentioned, but the names of the men in The Seven Deadly Sins and the guitar/banjo player were nowhere to be found. The mandolin playing by Doyle was not in print either. Finally, while the text of the Deadly Sins was distributed, the house lights were completely turned off, making it impossible to read. These complaints have nothing to do quality of the music performed; it was a full evening, rich with literature that was a bit off the beaten path, but definitely worthy of hearing.