Actually I don't know that Jean-Pierre Rampal will be playing his gold flute. (Last time, if memory serves, he didn't.) But that's what the press release says and, if his earlier performances here are any guide, chances are it will sound like it when he joins the Utah Symphony and its music director, Joseph Silverstein, for the opening concert of the season Friday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m in Symphony Hall.

There the fabled French flute virtuoso will be heard in two works, the first of Mozart's two-concertos for the instrument, the K. 313 in G major, and Cimarosa's Concerto for Two Flutes, also in G, sharing the spotlight in the latter with the orchestra's principal flutist, Erich Graf.On top of which gold and silver seem appropriate terms to describe a season the symphony is billing as its 50th anniversary. (We've been through the math on that before.) And one on which so much is riding financially.

Because although it isn't official yet, all signs point to an operating deficit for 1989-90, on which the books closed Friday, in excess of $1.5 million - a new record.

"At this point I would say more in the $1.6 million range," says executive director Paul R. Chummers, confirming earlier reports. "We still have a couple of weeks before we can tally it, and there are still some odds and ends coming in. But that's what it looks like."

If no one sounds too worried or surprised, that's because, as Chummers points out, this particular deficit is caused not by a lack of public support but by a lot of the latter that simply had to be rechanneled.

That, as may be remembered, was so the orchestra could qualify for a 3-to-1 matching grant of #1 million approved last year by the Legislature. That money was specifically designated not for the operating budget, however - currently in excess of $6 million - but for the endowment fund. Thus the $3 million in matching contributions likewise had to be for the endowment, necessitating some last-minute diverting of gifts to meet the June 30 deadline.

"That's probably the wrong term to use," Chummers says, adding that he prefers "redesignation," in each case with the acquiescence of the donor. That meant, first of all, that around $452,000 in 50th-anniversary contributions, which otherwise might have gone to the operating budget, was designated for the endowment. Ditto an 11th-hour influx of around $900,000, involving both reallocations and the moving up of a number of long-term pledges, one of which, to the tune of $500,000 was reportedly traded to a local bank for $393,000 in cash. (The terms of the state grant required cash in hand.)

Obviously, symphony officials were not about to let that $1 million slip through their hands. At the same time, those conversions not only deprived the operating fund of money this year - they also ensured that two of the largest long-term pledges, totaling around $1 million, will not be available to it in the future.

So how will both this and future years' deficits be met?

This year, Chummers, acknowledges, some of that money will have to be borrowed from the endowment, at least from the portion he calls "board-restricted" as opposed to "donor-restricted" - the first time that corpus has been officially invaded. (In previous years such borrowing has been limited to endowment earnings and capital gains; this year, however, those are well below the anticipated $1.6 million.)

As for '91-92, he says, "it's really too early to say. But the board has made it plain that we can't keep spending at those levels, or posting those kinds of deficits, and expect our donors to remain loyal. That's why you're seeing cuts in staff and other areas."

Even in announcing the attainment of the endowment goal last July, bringing that total ot $7.8 million, board member Kenneth V. Knight cautioned that "we still need to raise approximately $2 million each year to meet our annual operating costs." However, in recent years the actual amount raised has been closer to $1.7 million. In other words, what is needed is a lot more gold and silver.

The terms the orchestra itself is using to label the '90-91 season, however, are Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire - the official designations of its various series within series.

Thus classical concerts, 18 in number, have been divided into three subseries that may be purchased in combinations of six, 12 or 18. This year, moreover, subscribers have the option of a "Select Seven" package, allowing them to choose seven concerts from any of the orchestra's regular series - Classical, Chamber or Entertainment.

Classical subscriptions range in price from $46 to $422, the six-concert Entertainment Series from $51 to $155 and the four-concert Chamber Series from $38 to $63. (The full Classical Series is listed at right.)

Entertainment artists this season include Maureen McGovern (Sept. 28, 29), the Kingston Trio (Oct. 26, 27), conductors Norman Leyden (Feb. 1, 2) and John McGlinn (March 29, 30) and Mel Torme (May 10, 11).

In addition the orchestra is offering a number of special concerts, of which this week's Rampal opener is the first. Other works to be performed include Berlioz's "Roman Carnival" Overture and the suite from Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier." Tickets to this are available from $15 to $27, with special student tickets priced at $5.

A retirement-fund benefit on Oct. 20 will feature entertainer Steve Allen. Associate conductor Kirk Muspratt will preside over a Halloween concert, held in conjunction with the Symphony Guild's annual "Toast of the Towne," on Oct. 30. And on Nov. 1 the Vienna Choir Boys will perform, without the orchestra.

Other concerts are scheduled Nov. 20 (the annual Utah Symphony-Deseret News "Salute to Youth"), Dec. 31 (the annual New Year's Eve celebration) and Jan. 26, the last featuring Professor Peter Schickele as part of his "P.D.Q. Bach" farewell tour. Prices to these events vary.

Further options include the Saturday-morning Youth Series and the orchestra's Finishing Touches Series of selected dress rehearsals.

For information on all the above call the Symphony Hall box office, 533-NOTE.