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Byron Stripling to jazz up festival next weekend

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Anton Miller will perform with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra at the Shenandoah Summer Music Festival at 8 p.m. on July 28. — Courtesy SVMF

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Byron Stripling will perform with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra at the Shenandoah Summer Music Festival at 8 p.m. July 27. — Courtesy Byron Stripling

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival's second weekend will highlight the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra performing with special guest Byron Stripling on Friday and Anton Miller on Saturday.

Preparing to perform "Satchmo Fats and the Duke," jazz artist Stripling said he hopes to convey the beauty of the music he feels in his heart.

"You get to hear that freedom, that beauty ... it's like watching people think on their feet as they perform," he said in a recent phone interview.

Jazz, to him, is about the improvisation. Though he said he loves classical or Baroque music, like Ludwig van Beethoven, he said symphonies ideally should always sound the same.

"It's still in my heart, in fact all great music stays in my heart," he said. But jazz just isn't that way.

"It's always living and breathing," he said. "I think to me that's the essence of jazz."

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Chris Zimmerman, is a mainstay at the annual music festival, providing what the festival's website calls "the valley's symphonic soundtrack" since 1979.

Kicking off the weekend with a night of jazz, the orchestra will return on Saturday with violinist Miller, who will entertain with Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons and "Antonin Dvorak's "New World Symphony."

Stripling, who's appeared with the Boston Pops and Baltimore Symphony and recently performed with the Toronto and Vancouver symphonies, said this will be his first time joining the Fairfax Symphony.

"I'm honored," he said. "This is going to be an exciting and a fun experience for me."

"What I'm doing is I'm stepping on their turf."

He said he thinks the audience will enjoy the volley of musical riffs between Stripling and the orchestra.

"A lot of orchestras just play background," he said. "It's almost like syrupy, saccharine."

This time will be different, he said.

"By the end of the show I think the orchestra, they'll become jazz musicians."

Byron Stripling will perform with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra on July 27, and Anton Miller will perform on July 28. Performances are at 8 p.m., and the gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 for preferred pavilion seats, $35 for reserved pavilion seats, $30 for adult lawn seats and $10 for child lawn seats. For more information, visit www.musicfest.org.

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