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Dunedin Concert Band promises a dose of holiday sentiment


Feelin' a bit Scroogey this time of year?

Banish the "bahs" and "humbugs" and head over to the Dunedin Community Center tonight where the Dunedin Concert Band, now in its 29th performance season, presents "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

With free admission, even old Ebenezer would crack a smile — and he might part with a sixpence or two during the freewill donation at the concert's end.

Either way, he certainly would enjoy the show.

"It's a full-blown Radio City Music Hall-style program," said music director and conductor Louis Alan Zagar, who took over the band in 2008.

Since then, Zagar, who has a doctorate in instrumental music education and wind band conducting, has grown the band from 27 members to 72.

The audience has grown, too.

"We were getting 200 or 300, now we play to standing-room crowds of 850 or more," he said.

He said the key to the success is that he selects music from new and established composers that are complex and challenging to band members.

Don't expect the Rockettes or a flying Santa in this show, but do expect great music and song, an appearance by Mr. Jelly Belly himself, and commentary and jokes by Zagar.

"I'm a bit more Jay Leno than David Letterman," said Zagar, who at age 61 is wearing clear braces to improve his clarinet playing. "We'll have a lot of fun."

The ensemble, ages 15 to 89, will take its audience on an emotional sleigh ride with music like The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, the spirited gospel Go Tell It On the Mountain, and the venerable carol, O Come, All Ye Faithful.

At 89, Jane Sabo, a bell player, is the oldest member of the band. She said music has been her life and it's what keeps her going.

"I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have this," she said.

The concert also features vocal soloists Pamela Hood and Rodney Chapman as well as a special guest performance by the 22-member chamber choir, Choral Essence. The bay area chorale, directed by Arthur Goetze, will sing several holiday favorites from Broadway musicals.

The concert's sentimental theme about coming home "recognizes the spirit of being home for Christmas and paying homage to those who cannot be home because of circumstance or through their passing," Zagar said.

Former band member Robert Youngberg, who died in June at age 78, will be "home for Christmas" as his euphonium rests on his former chair tonight.

And two brothers, members of the Fire Department of New York City, will give a section of a beam from the Twin Towers to the Dunedin Concert Band and the city of Dunedin, in remembrance of their father, Lawrence Stack, who died when the towers collapsed.

"You'll laugh, cry and experience every emotion in between," Zagar promised. "It's Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve and all the sentiments the holidays exude."

>>fast facts

"I'll Be Home for Christmas"

What: A holiday concert by the city of Dunedin Concert Band, directed and conducted by Louis Alan Zagar.

When: 8 p.m. today.

Where: Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pine­hurst Road.

Admission: Free, but donations accepted at concert's conclusion.

For more information: Call the community center at (727) 812-4530.

Dunedin Concert Band promises a dose of holiday sentiment 12/16/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 6:17pm]
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