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The excellent and the esoteric at DBIF 

Daytona Beach International Festival
April 16-May 2 at Peabody Auditorium,
News-Journal Center and other venues
(price varies according to event)

The Daytona Beach International Festival packs a lot into 15 days. There are obvious highlights, from the London Symphony Orchestra's classical and pops programs to star turns by Chuck Mangione (April 18) and Chris Botti (April 16). But there are also standouts among the less trumpeted events, in categories as varied as jazz, family fare, late night and the catchall world stage: Latin-themed artists like the legendary Chuchito Valdes and his Afro-Cuban jazz trio (April 30-May 2), Salsa Under the Stars with Tiempo Libre (April 24) and, from New York and a dizzying range of dance sources, the stellar Ballet Hispanico (April 28 and 29).

Very different from the Yellowjackets and Mike Stern, with their Grammy-nominated jazz (April 17) will be the Bluegrass Bash, featuring Ralph Stanley, the Lovell Sisters and Cherryholmes (May 1), and Celtic Crossroads, which blends Irish roots with gypsy, bluegrass, jazz and the classics (April 17 and 18).

A handful of performances rise above all the rest. Consider the LSO's five classical and many single pops programs: all superb. One of the most unusual features Lalo Schifrin and his jazz trio (April 30) taking the stage with the LSO for a sampling of music he composed for blockbusters like Dirty Harry, Mission: Impossible and The Fox. Later in the show, Schifrin's trio and amazing backup band take on "Dizzy Gillespie Fireworks."

Quieter, but equally unforgettable are two chamber programs: Six LSO musicians present "Music From the British Isles," (April 23), a tour de force that ranges from ancient English ballads to readings from Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas. Just as unique and ethnically distinctive is the Brasil Guitar Duo (April 17, 18 and 21). Winner of the 2006 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, the young two-piece fuses genres with "maturity, talent and perfect technique," writes Brazilian guitarist Paulo Bellinati.

The festival's blowout performance is likely to be its biggest — literally, when the 2009 DBIF closes with more than 100 vocalists and another 100 or so instrumentalists onstage, along with LSO conductor Daniel Harding, as the Winter Park Bach Festival Choir joins the LSO in a double sizzler (May 2). Following right on the flaming notes of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," the Russian composer's 1910 ballet, Carl Orff's searing "Carmina Burana" brings the festival home in bombastic fashion.

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