In his review of the McLean Symphony {Style, Nov. 22}, Ed Roberts wrote that the "all-volunteer orchestra," in which category the McLean group falls, "is becoming a rarity." Judging from his severe and unfair comments on the McLean orchestra's performance, Roberts would seem to want it to join the ranks of the extinct.

As a professional musician, I was surprised to see a review in a major newspaper of a nonprofessional concert in a suburban locale. Such reviews are usually carried only in the local papers.

Roberts implied that the orchestra was presumptuous to charge admission ("a rather hefty $12") for a concert that failed to "meet minimum standards." But just like professional groups, volunteer groups have to rent the hall, do publicity, print scores etc. By charging admission, they don't assert their equality to the National Symphony but simply try to make ends meet. Is $12 really too much to expect of friends, neighbors and others interested in the cause of music making for the sheer joy of it however imperfect in quality?

And must Roberts impress us with his musical erudition by lecturing on rhythm? ("DUM-um-Dum-DUM-um".) Please, spare us.

Despite Roberts's torpedo tactics, I hope conductor Dingwall Fleary and his striving if imperfect musicians do not slink back chastened and cowering to their computers and word-processors, putting their instruments away, never again having the temerity to inflict musical discomfort on the likes of Roberts. I hope they return to play again publicly, bloody but unbowed, in the cause of amateur music making.

-- Paul S. Kueter