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Posted June 25, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Summer songs: Festival fills warm nights with stars
By Josette Keelor - firstname.lastname@example.org
ORKNEY SPRINGS -- This quiet community will once again become the music Mecca of the Shenandoah Valley in only a few short weeks.
For 45 years the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival has transformed the small resort community into a grand concert arena with performances to rival any symphonic hall around the world. This year's queue will surely not disappoint as it includes the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans, country music star Travis Tritt and expert Charlie Chaplin impersonator Dan Kamin.
The festival runs on select weekends from July 17 through Sept. 6, and opens with Celtic fiddle music from Eileen Ivers and the Immigrant Soul.
"You should come out and you should bring your whole family with you," says Dennis Lynch, director of the festival. "We have a number of new things going on."
The festival is a family event and will feature music and performances for all ages and preferences.
This year's event will offer its first ever multimedia night on July 24, Lynch says. "Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony" will spotlight Dan Kamin, a Charlie Chaplin expert who trained Robert Downey Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in the movie "Chaplin." The show will feature Kamin and the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Grant Cooper.
"Dan is one of the world's leading experts on the movements of Charlie Chaplin," Lynch says.
"He has conceived and sort of created and directed this show," he says. "He plays sort of [a] crazy mime character who tries to take over the orchestra."
Cooper, who directs the West Virginia Symphony, also wrote the music for the two Chaplin movies that will play at the festival, Lynch says. The Fairfax Symphony, under his direction, will perform while the movies play. The show will mimic the old practice of orchestral music being performed as emotional and lively music to silent movies in the early 20th century.
The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra will play again on July 25 for "Romantic Passions," a piano concerto performed by world-renowned Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who now lives in the U.S.
"She is an incredible piano player," Lynch says.
Other performances throughout the summer include jazz, gospel, bluegrass and country music. Bluegrass family band and four-time Grammy nominees, Cherryholmes, will close out the festival on Sept. 6
"There's something for everybody, something for all musical tastes right in your backyard," Lynch says.
"It was originally founded to present symphonic music," he says. "In those days the only way to train conductors was to put together an orchestra for them to work with." The Orkney Springs Hotel, part of the Shrine Mont Camp and Conference Center, would host the events each summer, and local residents would come by and sit outside to listen to the music, he says.
"It was the only way to listen to symphonic music [in the area] in those days."
In response to public interest in the outdoor concerts, a committee formed to organize the festival.
"The first concerts were actually at Massanutten Military Academy in the gym," Lynch says. "The variety of music grew and attendance grew and everything is outdoors back at Orkney Springs where it all started."
Though the queue of performers changes each year, concert-goers can expect quality music every time.
"We try to get a variety every year," Lynch says. "We try to get outstanding performers, number one, and a variety.
"I hope that they will take away an incredible urge to keep coming back every year," Lynch says. "Some people like to consider it their own little secret; we want as many people to know about it as possible."
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