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UMW orchestra goes global

BY LINDLEY ESTES

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

The University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Fiddler’s Holiday” performance began airing internationally last week, bringing scenes of the campus and downtown Fredericksburg to television screens as far away as Toronto and Costa Rica.

The special was taped last year by PBS to broadcast during the holidays.

Kevin Bartram, maestro of the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra, said, “One by one affiliates are picking it up and using it to fundraise.”

The performance, filmed in Dodd Auditorium last December, features The Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band, who are known for writing music for Ken Burns’ documentary “The Civil War.”

Additional highlight footage was also filmed around campus and at various locations in Fredericksburg.

Bartram said he did not set out to produce an ordinary holiday special.

“I wanted to craft a show that was Christmasy, but also touched on history and Virginia Appalachian roots,” he said.

Jim Brown, four-time Emmy winning producer and director of the special, said in a review that the show “features one of America’s greatest fiddlers.”

He said UMW has “perhaps one of the country’s best university orchestras.”

The music was performed in “one of the most historic towns in America. At the 150th anniversary of the battle of Fredericksburg, this concert, in its own way, brings the North and South together,” he said.

However, Bartram said that the theme was not the only unique aspect of the show.

“The music is such high quality and people don’t normally see that coming out of a small town like Fredericksburg and a small college like UMW,” he said.

Bartram said the PBS special has a potential to increase tourism in the Fredericksburg area as it aired across the nation.

He said one conversation with a vice president of PBS stuck out to him.

“He said he’s never been to Fredericksburg and after seeing shots of it wanted to bring his family here,” Bartram said.

He hopes for a similar reaction from local residents who view the special.

“I hope people in the area who see it will come away with pride for their community,” he said.

This year’s annual Holiday Pops concert returns to a more traditional Christmas theme, but Bartram said, “I don’t really do anything traditionally.”

The performances will be held Dec. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.

The performance will feature a sampling music from Christmas films, with a twist.

“We’ll be doing a spin on films such as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” he said.

The show includes an original scene from the film that was cut when producers decided to make it a holiday film instead of a spring release.

The orchestra will then play the selection from the film that was cut.

“It will be action-packed,” Bartram said.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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