A community gathering in its truest sense, last night's concert by the Shoestring Orchestra of Capitol Hill was laced with gaiety and surprises. Players dutifully reassembled for each number, sometimes following the program and other times not. As a blaring Joplin march and a Strauss waltz (which limped more than it waltzed) crept into the air at the Market 5 Gallery, anxious listeners became prepared for anything.

Seemingly antithetical to a community orchestra, however, is the Shoestring's passion for contemporary music: It played three modern pieces, two of them premieres. Of these recent creations by local composers, the only one that contained any semblance of original vision was "The Wind of Dawn" for orchestra and tape by Ulf Grahn. The difficulty of using taped sounds in conjunction with live ones--that is, successfully melding the two forces--was overcome as taped sounds enhanced and swelled with those of the orchestra. The opening music was particularly effective, as the percussive recorded material established a staggering dialogue with waves of instrumental counterpoint.

Overtures by Ermano Wolf-Ferrari and Wagner were shining examples of the theatrical side of music, the first sounding like a newly discovered Gilbert and Sullivan score, and the Wagner, as dramatically charged as it possibly could have been.