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Fairfax Symphony Readies for New Season

'Lord of the Rings Symphony' will close season in May.

Violinist Jaime Laredo returns to open the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s 2004-05 season with a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor on Saturday, Sept. 18, at George Mason University Center for the Arts.

“Jaime’s played with us a number of times,” said Frank Hudson, artistic administrator for the orchestra.

“The concert that night will also feature Brahms’ 'Academic Overture' and 'Jazz Suite No. 2' by Shostakovich,” he said.

The jazz piece is not what most listeners would recognize as jazz, Hudson said.

“It’s light music, like pops,” he said. “Jazz, at the time, was not well understood in the Soviet Union. It’s very light and entertaining and features several waltzes and a polka.”

During the season, the symphony will be hosting several major names in the classical music world.

“Peter Serkin, son of Russian pianist Rudolf Serkin, will be joining us in October,” Hudson said. “He’s evolved into a great musician in his own right, not just as his father’s son.” That concert, on Oct. 23, will feature Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2," along with Stravinsky’s “Petroushka” ballet suite.

In November, 13-year-old prodigy Ji-Yong will come to Fairfax to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E Flat.

“Ji-Yong is the youngest person ever to win the New York Philharmonic Young Artist competition, at age 10,” Hudson said. “He’s an astonishing talent and has appeared at Lincoln Center to perform with the conductor of the New York Philharmonic,” he said.

Ji-Yong’s inclusion on the calendar is another example of the symphony’s “mission to help uncover and launch the superstars of tomorrow,” Hudson said.

Violinist Mayuko Kamio is scheduled to appear with the orchestra on Jan. 22, 2005. She'll perform Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnol."

However, Hudson said that the symphony is abuzz these days with the addition of a special program at the end of the season.

“We’ve just been confirmed to have the exclusive Washington premiere of the 'Lord of the Rings Symphony,' which uses music from all three films,” he said.

THE CONCERTS will take place Friday, May 27; Saturday, May 28; and Sunday, May 29. They will include a soprano soloist, a boy soprano soloist, a children’s choir and a mixed adult chorus, Hudson said.

“Not only will the concert have music from the films, we’ll project artwork overhead from the movies and also feature illustrations from the centennial edition of the 'Lord of the Rings' books by J.R.R. Tolkien,” he said.

The concerts will also feature a guest conductor, but who that is will not be known until at least two months before the event, he said.

Jan Gerry, executive director of the symphony, said she’s excited about the upcoming season.

“We’re returning to the seven-concert Masterworks Series, which is great,” she said, as recent years have featured four or five concerts.

“We’re also bringing back our holiday pops concert on Dec. 4 with a choral group. It’s a family concert, and we haven’t been able do one in several years,” Gerry said.

She’s also very excited about the "Lord of the Rings" concerts.

“It’s a wonderful scoop for the Washington area,” she said.

“It’ll appeal to a group that wouldn’t ordinarily come to the Masterworks Series,” she said. “We’re expecting to see an audience with ages 10 and up. We know there’ll be a lot of college students making an effort to get here, as well.”

The symphony hopes to continue its outreach program of ‘lending’ members of the symphony to area schools, Gerry said.

“We have string orchestras that go to schools, but we also will send in a conductor to help make local bands,” she said. “We want to enrich the education programs in the schools, and we’re working on a pilot program for children in grades three through six for the spring.”

“We’re trying to help youth and parents and classical music lovers in the area” by their outreach programs, she said.

William Hudson, conductor of the symphony, said that because the orchestra's repertoire is new every year, many songs haven’t been performed in five or six years.

“I like to include at least one piece in each program that people are familiar with, something that’s not too common, and something else that’s a little bit rare,” he said.

With 100 musicians in the symphony, the size also allows for some flexibility in the selections made for each season.

“You need that many people to play this type of repertoire. It gives the music a fuller sound,” he said.

Further information on the upcoming season is available on the symphony’s Web site, www.fairfaxsymphony.org. Tickets are available by calling Tickets.com at 703-218-6500. Most concerts take place on Saturdays at 8 p.m., at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax.