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Native musician turns love for music into career


By Brianna Stephens
Advocate Staff writer

After finding his passion for music in elementary school, a local musician has made his career traveling around the world for his music.

David Fanning, a 1985 Montgomery County High School graduate, is the music director/conductor for the National String Symphonia, a fully professional string orchestra he founded in Maryland in 2013.

Fanning said he found his love for music when he was in elementary school and had the chance to study with Terry Ensor at First Christian Church, sing in choir and play in the marching band while he was in school.

“(Music has) always been something that has interested me,” Fanning said.

He added he has always been an introvert, but music allows him to connect with people in a way he might not otherwise.

“That ultimately is what this is all about,” Fanning said. “Sharing something real and vital and meaningful with others.”

Fanning was a pianist for several years, playing in musical theaters, as part of a tour of “Les Misérables,” spent 10 years being an accompanist for ballet performances and has conducted symphony and chamber orchestra performances in the U.S., Europe and South America.
“I love traveling and meeting new people,” Fanning said. “This has given me the opportunity to do that.”

Among his several other notable roles and performances, Fanning was the pianist for the reopening ceremony of the Washington Monument in 2014, accompanying 2013 American Idol winner Candice Glover, played for singer/musician Nick Palance, whose uncle is Jack Palance, an actor starring in the comedy “City Slickers,” previously performed at the White House for a Christmas celebration, recently performed a classical concert at The Kennedy Center with NSS and regularly plays piano in jazz clubs.
Fanning started the NSS after researching string orchestra literature for several years.

In his research, he discovered around 2,500 pieces of music for string orchestras, but only 30 are used in modern orchestras, he said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not practical at the professional level to get performances” with the pieces he found because they require only string instruments, Fanning said. He added by playing those pieces, several members of an orchestra couldn’t be used for a performance.
“We created the NSS to really highlight that wonderful music,” Fanning said.

The NSS’s mission is to preserve, promote and present string orchestra music, and its goal is “to reach beyond the archetypical orchestra audience and become an integral part of the musical life of all listeners at all ages and stages,” according to the organization’s website.

Fanning said every concert by the NSS is a world premiere because it features new classical music by modern composers.

“So often I think people think of classical music as being written by old dead white guys from 200 years ago,” Fanning said. “People are writing it still today.”

In an upcoming series of concerts by the NSS, Fanning said the composer of a piece of music played by the orchestra will be skyped in so the audience can ask questions about the piece. The experience will help the audience understand the ongoing work that goes in to classical music, he added.

For more information about the NSS and it’s performance schedule, go to www.nssorchestra.org. The orchestra and Fanning can also be followed on social media.