The McLean Chamber Orchestra has won a coveted award from the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for overall adventuresome programming of contemporary music in 1978-79.

If it doesn't already, the award probably should have Dingwall Fleary's name engraved on it.

Almost singlehandedly, Fleary has forged the community orchestra into one of musical excellence. He helped found the orchestra in 1972 and has been its innovative musical director ever since.

The McLean orchestra is the only community group on the East Coast to receive theeir ASCAP award. "There was only one other musical group around here given the same honor. That was the National Symphony in Washington," Fleary said.

Under ASCAP guidelines, Fleary said, comtemporary music includes any work written after late 1940s. ASCAP specifically praised McLean for performing two compositions written last year.

"Over the years now, we've developed a reputation for giving a hearing to new works. So I get works submitted from all over," Fleary said. "I gave world premieres last season to two pieces composed in 1978, one by Paula Diehl, a McLean resident at that time."

Diehl, a cellist, wrote "Aorists I, II and III," a suite for full strings and an unusual complement of winds.

Fleary said he was drawn to the work because he was intrigued by the title. "It has to do with the meaning of the word 'aorist' -- order coming from disorder."

The McLean Orchestra also premiered "Symphony No. 7" by J. William Middendorf II in 1978.

Middendorf is a former secretary of the Navy and former ambassador to the netherelands who now lives in McLean.

Fleary said ASCAP is interested in supporting musical groups that are "daring enough to present the latest new works, especially at the community level."

Fleary intends to continue that innovative approach with the McLean Orchestra.

"We've got a couple of world premieres on the schedule this year," he said. "Somtow Sucharitkul, considered to be Thailand's foremost young composer and writer, is letting us premiere his new work."

Sucharitkul, the son of Thailand's ambassador to the United States, lives in Alexandria. Before the June 7 premiere, he will coach McLean's musicians in playing Thai instruments included in his orchestration, Fleary said.

The orchestra's first concert this season, on Oct. 28, featured the premiere of a work composed last spring by Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida, "Concerto No. 1 For Guitar and Orchestra."

Highlights of the Chamber Orchestra's schedule for this season are listed below. All performances are in the Alden Theater, 1236 Ingleside Ave., McLean. Call 356-7858 for details.

Violinist Elizabeth Small will be the soloist at 8 p.m. Nov. 24. The concert will feature pieces by Prokofiev, Tchaikowsky and Glazounov.

Soprano Ellyn Lomack Crawford will appear with the McLean Chamber Orchestra Singers at 3 p.m. Dec. 16 and will perform excerpts from Handel's "Messiah" and Mozart's "Exsultate Jubilate."

The McLean Ballet Company will perform with the orchestra at the Annual Winter Gala at 8 p.m. Feb. 9. A champagne buffet follows the concert. Tickets are $10 each ( $5 deductible).

A concert of choral music will take place on at 3 p.m. March 23.

The annual "Concert for Young of All Ages" will be at 7:30 p.m. April 5.

The world premiere of Sucharitkul's untitled work will be performed at 8 p.m. June 7. Pianist Charyl Trayhern Singer will be the featured soloist.

The Arlington Arts Center was incorrectly identified in last week's Virginia Weekly. The center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 524-1494.