The American Festival Pops Orchestra reaches into scores from favorite films for "Cinema Magic." The season finale for this ensemble of local professional musicians is directed by Founder Anthony Maiello. A professor at George Mason University's School of Music, he is the author of several books about conducting and is frequently featured as a guest conductor at music workshops and festivals worldwide, including the gold medal ceremonies at the 1980 Winter Olympics and the National Conducting Institute. In 2010, he was inducted into the Bands of America Hall of Fame.

"This will be a wonderful show with music from 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'How the West Was Won,' John Williams' score from 'E.T.' and music that everyone remembers from their favorite movies," Maiello said. "For a conductor, working with a group of musicians like those in AFPO is like dying and going to music heaven. As for the audiences, everyone enjoys the pops genre from films. It's just fun!"

Among the noted members of AFPO are Emmy Award winner Joe Robinson, principal oboist with the New York Philharmonic for 27 years; keyboardist Wade Beach, former member of the Airmen of Note, now a professor at GMU; flugelhornist Dave Detwiler, who has played with the National Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow and many others; and saxophonist Jim Carroll, a former member of Woody Herman's Thundering Herd and currently the director of the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Studies program at GMU.

The orchestra will be joined by Vincent Oppido, a GMU graduate who now composes and conducts music for films and television shows, most recently the 2013 Academy Awards broadcast. He attributes his success to his mentor, Anthony Maiello.

American Festival Pops Orchestra
» Where: George Mason University Center of the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax
» When: 8 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $24 to $48; 888-945-2468;

"I came to GMU for my undergraduate and graduate work because my high school music teachers had studied under Professor Maiello at Potsdam State University in New York and said he is the best," Oppido said. "He proved to be a great mentor who nurtures his students. The greatest gift he gave me was performing my music, whether I wrote it for the school's wind ensemble or the orchestra. He took me on the road when he was guest conductor and gave me the tangible experience of hearing my music played by great musicians. This exposure helped me to discover what I was doing right or wrong.

"My main instrument is the piano, I dabble on the guitar, and I played percussion a little bit in college, but as a music education student, I had to learn enough about other instruments to teach the basics in the classroom. Knowing the capabilities of each instrument helps in composing. The practice of writing music enables you to learn what works. Currently, I'm working on music for a TV show, and I'm also writing concert music, a great place to refine one's tools.

"When Professor Maiello called a year ago to talk about this film night, we came up with ideas about some of the recognizable music we could use, such as Max Steiner's Tara['s] Theme from 'Gone with the Wind,' Henry Mancini's theme from the 'Days of Wine and Roses' and Gabriel's theme from 'The Mission,' which Joe Robinson will play.

"I'll also lead the orchestra in a live film score demonstration. We'll begin with visual stimulation by showing a scene from a movie with no sound and discussing what the composer needs to think about before scoring it. Then we'll show the scene with the soundtrack to hear what the composer wrote."

"It's a joy to work again with Vinny," Maiello said. "He is not only extremely creative and gifted musically beyond belief, but he is a wonderful young man. While he was my student, I played his music both in this country and abroad and was able to get him commissions and get him published. He will go a long way scoring films, and the audience here will be very interested in his presentation."