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Daytona Beach International Festival: 17 Days of Music from Brahms to Bluegrass

Published by Fern Groetken

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For 40 years, the London Symphony Orchestra has made Daytona Beach, Fla. its American home via an annual, four-week residency program. Beginning in 1966, the LSO thrilled audiences at the biennial Florida International Festival. But organizers felt it was time for something new.

The event also has a new name: TheDaytona Beach International Festival. And its 17-day lineup of events, April 16-May 2, features not only the classical stylings of the LSO, but a sampling of multiple genres including Bluegrass, jazz, folk, country and world music emanating from a slew of local venues.

London Symphony Orchestra Headlines, World Renowned Guests Join In

The LSO remains the festival’s highlight with visits by Principle Guest Conductor and European superstar Daniel Harding; conductor Xian Zhang; and world renowned pianists, composer and conductor Lalo Schifrin, who has composed more than 100 feature films and television shows. The six-time Oscar nominee and Cable Ace Award winner’s credits include Mission Impossible, the Amityville Horror, Abominable and the Rush Hour trilogy.

Chinese-born Zhang offers a special treat for speedsters. In a multi-media tribute to Daytona Beach as the Birthplace of Speed, Zhang leads the LSO Pops! Concert, touted as the largest indoor symphonic concert in the Southeast.

Lineup Includes Celtic, Latin, Jazz, Hip Hop and Bluegrass Fusions

The inaugural takes music lovers around the globe, so to speak. The critically acclaimed Celtic Crossroads features and eight-member band and two Irish dancers known for fusing traditional Irish tunes with bluegrass, gypsy and jazz sounds.

The internationally renowned Ballet Hispanico and Tiempo Libre bring a Latin flare. Ballet Hispanico fuses Latin dance, including Conga, Rumba, Mambo and Cha Cha, with classical and contemporary elements. Tiemo Libre, one of today’s hottest young Latin bands, offers jazz stylings that have landed them two Grammy nominations. The Chuchito Valdes Jazz Trio gets audiences up and dancing with sounds that draw from Bebop, Cha-Cha-Cha and Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz. And PROJECT, one of today’s most innovative young chamber ensembles, fuses jazz, hip-hop and world music.

Bluegrass greats the Lovell Sisters, Ralph Stanley and Cherryholmes come together for The Bluegrass Bash – a festival within the festival. Picking and playing together since childhood, the Lovell Sisters won the NPR National Teen Talent Competition on Prarie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor in 2005 and since released their debut album, When Forever Rolls Around. Cherryholmes not only thrills audiences with their twin fiddles, Irish step dancing and traditional country yodeling, but impressed industry heads with their album Cherryholmes II, which debuted at the top of the Billboard Charts.

Ralph Stanley, considered among the world’s preeminent country musicians, has recorded nearly 200 albums and landed top accolades including two Grammy awards, the Library of Congress’ Living Legend Award and the National Endowment for Humanities’ Traditional American Music award.

Magic and Japanese Bunraku Theatre Puppetry Offer Something for the Kids

Festival-goers also will enjoy the magic if illusionist and winner of NBC’s Phenomenon, Mike Super. And the littlest ones will be wowed by the larger-than-life puppets of the Theatre San Fil. Inspired by the classical technique of Japanese Bunraku theatre and accompanied by a thrilling display of black lights, lasers and indoor fireworks, puppeteers present the children’s classic Hansel and Gretel in a most unique way.

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