Monday, July 2, 2012

Stars and Stripes and All That Jazz

The Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard held it's premiere concert, called Stars and Stripes and All That Jazz at the Orlando Shakes Theater on June 10th. The mission of the band, close to 50 members strong, is to inspire community and connect people whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight. Their goal is to unite, serve and educate through music, entertainment and arts. The concert was free although they accepted donations. Juan Canasi dreamed of a LGBT Community Band over ten years ago, and it was finally formed just one year ago thanks in part to contacts made with friends on social media. Some band members took their dusty instruments out of the closet to join and others are professional musicians.

Conductor Lee Sellers addressed the audience before the performance. He taught band at several middle schools and said he liked stepping up to conduct this mature group. "A band member in middle school might announce that he was getting braces the day before a performance. Oh, wait one of the Sounds of Freedom band members just got braces..." he said and laughed. The Color Guard wasn't on stage, they volunteered by handing out programs and acting as ushers.

The band began with selections from Chicago. I was pleased to see Emily Lindahl stroll out performing a trumpet solo, using a mute to flair the jazz filled notes. Emily is the director of public relations for the Orlando Philharmonic and I had no idea she played trumpet. I worked feverishly since I knew it was a fairly short concert. Band members switched seating positions between songs which added to my challenge. The band performed a rendition of Over the Rainbow, dedicated to Bob Imlah and ended with some traditional John Philip Sousa.

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