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Wednesday, September 22, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bruce Ferden, 44, Maestro, `Great Friend' To Seattle Opera

Bruce Ferden, a "great friend" to Seattle Opera, who conducted many memorable performances here over the past five years, died Sunday of AIDS-related complications. He was 44.

The Minnesota-born maestro was music director of the Spokane Symphony for six seasons and of the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra for nine years; he later became general music director of the city of Aachen in Germany. Mr. Ferden's conducting engagements took him from the Metropolitan Opera, where he led the world premiere of Philip Glass's "The Voyage," to the Dallas Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony and Kiel (Germany) Symphony.

Mr. Ferden made his Seattle Opera debut in 1988 with "Rigoletto," followed by "Satyagraha," "Tales of Hoffmann," "Rusalka," "Lucia di Lammermoor," and "Aida." He was booked to conduct "Hansel and Gretel" here next month, but withdrew when his state of health made conducting impossible.

Seattle Opera general director Speight Jenkins, a champion of Mr. Ferden's conducting, called him "one of our most exciting and fulfilling artists" whose death marks "yet another in the horrible destruction of young people who are at the beginning of their maturity by this terrible killer."

He studied at Moorhead State College and the University of Miami, with graduate work at the University of Southern California and at the Juilliard School. He rose to early prominence at the age of 25, when he was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. During his career, he led many world premieres as well as leading works of the standard repertoire, with such noted artists as Montserrat Caballe and Marilyn Horne.

Mr. Ferden is survived by his companion, Frank Ream; his parents, Maurice and Irene Ferden of Fosston, Minn.; a brother, Maurice Jr.; and two sisters, Pam Hagen of Minnesota and Joni Precht of Miami. Funeral services will be held Sunday in Mr. Ferden's hometown of Fosston.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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