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Food, Song Served Up in 2008

Local entertainment scene continues to boom.

The 2008 touring schedule for the Master Singers of Virginia reads like a spiritual journey: Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Peter's Episcopal Church in Purcellville, St. James Episcopal Church in Leesburg. While Bruckner’s "Mass in E Minor" will be featured in the group’s winter shows, its hallowed concert venues are chosen out of necessity more than anything else.

"The acoustics are best there. The size works well with our audience," said Mary Ellen Bufalo, president of the Master Singers, who are based out of Broadlands. "There just aren’t a lot of venues available for groups of our size."

The Master Singers are an a cappella ensemble that draws members from Loudoun County, as well as from regions like Alexandria, Gainesville and parts of West Virginia. The 28-member group — seven singers per part in the harmony — is led by Eric Reid Jones, its founder and artistic director. "I strongly believe in choral music as a living art, not just as something that belongs in the past. We’ve dedicated ourselves to this great principle: Sing modern music that is intellectually challenging, emotionally powerful and spiritually profound," he wrote in a mission statement on the Singers’ Web site, http://msva.choralmusic.org.

The Singers’ spring program promises to fulfill all of those requirements. After tackling Bruckner in February and the beginning of March, the group will perform a show titled "Music on the Death of JFK" on April 19, at St. James Episcopal Church, Leesburg; April 20, at Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church, Ashburn and April 26 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Purcellville. Advanced tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for students and seniors.

"Music on the Death of JFK" includes Herbert Howell’s "Requiem," Herbert Howell’s "Take Him, Earth, For Cherishing," Samuel Barber’s "Agnus Dei" and Jaakko Mantyjarvi’s "Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae."

"Really, Dr. Jones had pulled the music together for [this show]. We haven’t done anything quite like that before. There are some really beautiful works in there," said Bufalo.

THE MASTER SINGERS are just one of a number of music acts gearing up for 2008.

The Loudoun Symphonic Winds ensemble, under the direction of Gil Corella, has several shows lined up in the new year. On Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m., it will perform a show called "To Be or Not To Be." On April 5, at 7:30 p.m., the Winds will have "A Night at the Opera." On May 17, at 7:30 p.m., the Winds will have a show called "At the Movies!" Locations for the shows have yet to be determined.

Season concerts are open to the public, with donations of $5 per person and $10 per family requested. Visit www.lcbandinc.org for more information.

The Loudoun Symphony presents a free family concert on Feb. 23, at 4 p.m., inside Stone Bridge High School — a "side-by-side" event pairing the Symphony with the Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra. On May 17, 8 p.m., at Stone Bridge and May 18, 3 p.m., at Freedom High School in South Riding, the Symphony will perform pieces by Gershwin, Mozart, Borodin and Harris in concert. Visit www.loudounsymphony.org for more information.

Keep an eye on the Web site for The Loudoun Chorale, www.loudounchorale.org, for updates about that group.

While the organizers search for a new sponsor, the Loudoun Summer Music Fest is selling season passes for this year’s shows on its Web site, www.liveatbelmont.com. Last year included headliners like The Black Crowes.

AT THE THEATER, the Sterling Playmakers are preparing for what its shaping up to be a fun season.

Auditions for "Tom Jones," the 18th century comedy, will be held Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., and Jan. 26, at noon, at the Senior Center at Cascades Marketplace, 21060 Whitfield Place. in Sterling. According to Kathy Bleutge of the Playmakers, those who audition should wear comfortable clothes, as part of the audition will include a demonstration of fight capability.

The show will be performed April 4, 5, 11 and 12, at 8 p.m., and April 6 and 13, at 2 p.m., at the Sterling Middle School theatre, 201 West Holly Ave. Sterling. Tickets are $12 a person and are available at the door or online at www.sterlingplaymakers.com.

The Playmakers’ "Valentine Follies" will be held Feb. 8 and 9, at 8 p.m., and Feb. 10, at 2 p.m., at the Senior Center at Cascades Market Place. Ticket price is to be announced, with reservations necessary, available online at www.sterlingplaymakers.com.

Also on tap for the Playmakers this year is "Oklahoma!" "Shakespeare in the Park," and "Flowers for Algernon."

AS MORE and more shopping destinations pop up around town, more interesting dining options are filling in these strip malls.

Last year saw string of restaurants thrive around 44640 Waxpool Road: Sala Thai, Sorrento Grill’s Mediterranean cuisine and Al Forno Pizzeria & Trattoria. There was the well-received Ashburn Hearth in The Broadlands, 43170 Southern Walk Plaza, which managed to spotlight local ingredients while bringing the American Flatbread chain to the region.

The Dulles 28 shopping plaza, 22000 Dulles Retail Plaza, will soon have three new eateries vying for local taste buds in 2008: Cheeburger Cheeburger, www.cheeburger.com, will have Five Guys and Fuddruckers to contend with; Pei Wei Asian diner; and an Austin Grille southwestern dining restaurant. All of them, of course, will have to deal with what’s become one of the most popular dining options in Ashburn: The Wegman’s supermarket megastore across the parking lot from the shopping center.