DUNEDIN — It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas at the Dunedin Community Center, where the 76-piece Dunedin Concert Band is rehearsing its annual Christmas spectacular.
Midway through the practice, the band's first onstage "snowball fight" breaks out.
"We just hope no one gets hurt," kidded music director and conductor Dr. Louis Alan Zagar.
Join the frolicking fun as the band, now in its 31st season, presents a Boston Pops-style concert, "My Old Hometown Christmas."
"This year's concert features an array of 13 musical arrangements from hometowns across the country and the world," Zagar said. "I listened to over 100 pieces of music to make my selections. The result is a fun, beautiful and touching show."
Arrive early for today's 8 p.m. performance or Sunday's 3 p.m. concert. The shows are free, and seats fill up quickly.
The snowball fight takes place during a piece entitled Laughing All the Way. With apologies to Jingle Bells, it's a jovial romp where band members lob "snowballs" and insults like "Your mother wears combat boots" in childlike fun.
There's even a "tuba fart" written into the music.
"It's a gas to conduct," Zagar said.
In contrast to the lighthearted piece, he also selected the reverent and haunting Fantasy on Coventry Carol.
"It's a dark carol," he said. "Very few people understand its meaning."
The song dates back to medieval times, when it was performed in Coventry, England, as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. It speaks of King Herod's biblical decree that all male babies in Bethlehem should be slaughtered.
Other selections include:
• Good "Swing" Wenceslas by composer Sammy Nestico, which brings home the jazzy sounds of Chicago and New York.
• A rip-roaring rendition of The Saints' Hallelujah. This is a New Orleans blend of When the Saints Go Marching In and The Hallelujah Chorus.
• A rootin' tootin' Cowboy Christmas.
The concert features vocal performances by Erica DiCeglie, Pamela Hood Kooyenga, Nolan Marshall and Phillip Tropea.
The band lost two members this year: tuba player Ray Cary and trombonist Bill Bowling. The band pays homage to them, as well as those who find themselves away from their hometowns during the Christmas season, with two songs based on the revered classic Silent Night: Sleep in Heavenly Peace and A Winter's Night.
"The audience will have the opportunity to raise their voices in song and the band has the chance to say their final farewells to these band members," Zagar said. "It's very emotional. I sob like a baby every time."
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