Conductor Thomas Ludwig anticipates acquainting the Arlington Symphony and its audience with contemporary programming. "I'd like to challenge them a little," says Ludwig, who will be guest conductor for the symphony at its free concert Sunday, Feb. 9, at Kenmore Auditorium in Arlington. He plans to include Copland's "Appalachian Spring" in the program, along with Beethoven's "Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus" and Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73.

Ludwig is one of the five finalists hoping to inherit the baton of the Arlington Symphony's retired conductor, Carl Rucht. The other four candidates are Ralph Lane, David Pollitt, John Welsh and Joel Lazar.

"You get a responsiveness you wouldn't get with a professional orchestra," Ludwig says of the Arlington group. "Their love of music is their primary motivation." And Ludwig, 33, knows professional orchestras. He led the New York City Symphony at age 20, toured with American Ballet Theatre and conducted such prominent groups as the London Symphony and the Juilliard Concert Orchestra. Now he wants to coax a high level of performance from the "excellent musicians" in the 75-member Arlington Symphony and eventually create a "more well-known cultural force" in the Washington area.