The future of classical music, as far as local student involvement is concerned, lies in very capable hands indeed, judging from the D.C. Youth Orchestra's third annual benefit concert Saturday night at the Kennedy Center. With Channel 7's Paul Berry as emcee and conductor Alfonso M. Pollard on the podium, the evening was short on talk but generous on music, finishing well past 11.

Both Pollard and the orchestra deserve commendation for bringing off a challenging program expertly. The world premiere of Pollard's "Fanfare fuer ein Wunderhorn" showcased the brass and percussion in a rousing opener that helped limber up these sections for Mahler's Symphony No. 1 ("Titan"). Despite some ensemble lapses and wayward intonation by the French horns during the first movement, the orchestra put together a thoughtful performance that reached its emotional peak in the sardonic third-movement funeral march built around "Frere Jacques."

After intermission, graduating seniors received plaques and Jesse Jackson was presented the Elizabeth Polk Guest Humanitarian Service Award. Jackson praised the students' achievements and their contributions as positive role models.

Returning to the business of making music, the orchestra assumed a colorful supporting role behind soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, who effortlessly brought to life the nature settings of Joseph Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne." The sheer power of the concluding "Rienzi" overture by Wagner received a unanimous standing ovation.