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Steve Miller joins 'ROCK Symphony' performances Sept. 17-18

September 16, 2011 | 12:55 pm

Steve Miller 
Steve Miller's music has become a staple at classic-rock radio, and this weekend the guitarist, singer and songwriter enters the realm of classical rock with world premiere performances of "Steve Miller ROCK Symphony," a new work that's grown out of his long involvement with Kids Rock Free, a program that provides free or low-cost music lessons to young players.

The 35-minute rock symphony comprises five Miller songs arranged for orchestra by Rune Bergmann, and will have its premiere Saturday at the Fender Center Museum in Corona, where Miller will join Bergmann and the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. They'll do an encore show Sunday at the Temecula Civic Center Plaza in old town Temecula as a benefit for a KRF school slated to open in that city this fall.

Miller has been supporting the KRF program for a decade, often working with the students age 7 to 17 who receive guitar, bass, drums, voice and combo-playing lessons at the museum's KRF school.

"You can build a Kids Rock Free music school for less than it costs to build a McDonald's restaurant," Miller told Spinner last year. "You build it in five months in a tilt-up building and you can hire five teachers and you can have a thousand kids taking music lessons in from zero to six months."

The Fender Center school now serves about 400 youths per week, museum executive director Debbie Shuck said, but it could accommodate as many as 1,600 students a week with sufficient funding to pay teachers. Lessons for adults are also offered at the school.

"We have a waiting list of 1,000 kids," Shuck said Friday. "It's just word of mouth, and it's first-come, first-served." More than 16,000 kids have participated since the program began in 1998, she said.

KRF school students have created bands that are given opening slots for acts that play fundraisers at the facility, including Miller, Merle Haggard, Paul Rodgers and others.

On Saturday, the program, which will be emceed by KLOS-FM deejay Cynthia Fox, will include an opening set by one of the student bands, the Fender Benders, and three numbers by the orchestra. Miller will then join the ensemble for the performance of the rock symphony.

Ticket prices range from $35 to $100. Information: (951) 735-2440, ext. 207. Or www.FenderCenter.org.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Steve Miller. Credit: David Woo