The Alexandria Symphony is holding auditions for a new music director, and everyone is invited to help make the selection. Don't bother calling to apply for the position; the orchestra's board already has whittled the field from 60 to five.

Each of the five conductors will lead the orchestra in one of its subscription concerts this year to demonstrate his or her fitness to take the permanent position of music director. But the candidate who gets the job "will have to play a more complete role in the community than just coming in to rehearse the orchestra, perform and leave," said Barbara Green, executive director of the Alexandria Symphony. The new music director will serve as a "musical ambassador to the community," she said. "Alexandria is a very civic-minded community."

All of the prospective conductors are from the Baltimore-Washington area and range in age from 28 to 48. The symphony is looking for someone to succeed George Steiner, who led the musicians for 20 years until his retirement last year.

The season opens Oct. 17 with conductor Joel Lazar, former music director of the Tulsa Philharmonic, on the podium. Next will be a Christmas concert Dec. 5, led by Stephen Robert Kleiman, music director of the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington. Catherine Overhauser, music director at Baltimore's Hopkins Symphony, will take up the baton for a January concert, featuring baritone Charles Williams of Alexandria.

Kim Allen Kluge, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland and apprentice conductor to William Hudson of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, will preside over a concert of music by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff in March. Luis Haza, music director of the Northern Virginia Youth Symphony, will lead the orchestra in its final concert in April.

A six-member committee of the symphony board will reflect on its impressions of the candidates, the reaction of orchestra players and the responses of audience members, who will be invited to fill out a short evaluation of each conductor. A decision will be made soon after the last concert.

Subscribers who order season tickets before Sept. 5 will receive a two-for-one meal deal from five area restaurants. Joe Theismann's, Ecco, the Mount Vernon Inn, Cates and Gallatin's are supporting the symphony in the promotion, which began last year.

Gallatin's, at the Radisson Mark Plaza Hotel, held a benefit for the symphony Saturday, featuring Virginia wines. The event also recognized Virginia Wine Week.