Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, under Artistic Director Dan Bassett and Assistant Director Chris Schlenker, recently presented Pops! at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. This one night only concert featured the Ft. Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, Rainbow Circus Productions and Events, the South Florida Pride Jazz Ensemble, the Dance Attack Dancers, and guest soloists Robyn Lamb and Shanna Nolan Gundry.
The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Marching Band produces two major concerts per year at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to formal concerts, they perform at pride events from Jacksonville to Key West, Christmas on Las Olas, Christmas Eve at MCC Sunshine Cathedral, the Tuesday's Angels Bike Ride, and many other events. The bands regularly share the stage with local performers and believe strongly in supporting local talent. The wind ensemble collaborates with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, Lambda Chorale, In Harmony, MCC Sunshine Cathedral Choir and the Florida Singing Sons Boychoir. The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble has hosted the annual convention of the LGBA five times. The 2009 LGBA Convention, hosted by the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble in New Orleans, debuted the first ever LGBA Honors Jazz Ensemble, which featured six-time Grammy Award winner Gary Burton on vibraphone. Their primary function is to entertain audiences in South Florida and support the community through various performances. For more information on the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble please go to pridewindensemble.org.
The evening's musical offerings included special lighting and video presentations to add to the overall production value. The opening "Star Wars Medley" by John Williams and second act "Theme from Family Guy" were cleverly accompanied by a montage of video clips honoring and spoofing the subject matter. The three John Williams pieces ("Star Wars Medley," "Raider's March" and "Cantina Band from Star Wars") were well played though they could benefit from a more sweeping approach to the forte (loud) sections, and more intensity and crispness in the piano (soft) sections. "Light Cavalry Overture" marked the first South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble piece conducted by a female, Jessey Andris. It was well conducted and played but for a couple of under-pitch notes on trombone. Copland's lovely "Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring" contains a glorious clarinet solo, but suffers from a clumsy trumpet solo that opens and closes the piece. The trumpet section is more than redeemed, however, in a cleanly played "Bugler's Holiday." Chris Schlenker turns in a nice jazz version of "Georgia on My Mind" on Alto Saxophone. Adding levity to the musical offerings was the inclusion of Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter" which actually features a typewriter, desk bell and cabasa (played in a downstage vignette).
An eight-member dance team (Dance Attack) brought Latin flavor to the close of the second act in the song "Tico Tico." Vocal soloist Robyn Lamb was featured in the song "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables, and Shanna Nolan Gundry in "Popular" from Wicked. Though both singers are a bit young vocally and chronologically, they were well received for the sincerity of their performances of these crowd pleasing hits. The song "In the Center Ring" provided a sampling of some circus acts from Rainbow Circus Production and Events. A couple of clowns, a man on stilts and some aerialist work performed with panache made this one of the highlights of the evening. Closing out the night was the Ft. Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus singing "Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine" from Hair, complete with '60s costumes. In a fitting end to the show, they approached the number with great fun and a sense of camaraderie. This evening of Pops!, with the South Florida Wind Ensemble and guests, provided a refreshingly entertaining program with substantial diversity.
Pops! appeared for one performance only on June 12, 2010 in the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.
Song Sponsors:Walter Gaugler, The Andris Family, Gary Hoffman and Ron Bull, Mary Moore, Dan Bassett and Francis Lyn, Alain Ortiz, Todd Wiley, Adam DeRosa and John Garcia, Bank of America, Michael Leigh, Kenn Esbin, MCC Sunshine Cathedral, Fred Matter, Peter Calia