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Arts and Entertainment Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 3 weeks ago

Wind Ensemble trumpets upcoming concert

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The Lakewood Ranch group will perform on Thanksgiving weekend.
by: Abby Weingarten Contributor

Patriotic and packed with musical veterans, the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble is returning to the stage this month with a refreshed and spirited repertoire.

At 2 p.m. Nov. 28, the ensemble, led by Founder and Conductor Joseph “Joe” Maciariello Miller, will perform a Thanksgiving concert at Peace Presbyterian Church in Lakewood Ranch.

Selections will include the “American Overture for Band” by Joseph Willcox Jenkins, “Bennet’s Triumphal March” by Melvin Ribble, “Molly on the Shore” by Percy Aldridge Grainger, “Florentiner March” by Julius Fucik, “Hands Across the Sea” by John Philip Sousa and Loras Schissel, “Second Suite in F” by Gustav Holst, “Festive Overture” by Dmitri Shostakovich, and selections from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” (arrangement by R. Russell Bennett).

“I always start our program with the national anthem (folks stand up and sing it) and I end with ‘America the Beautiful,’” Miller says. “We have several veterans in our band — musicians that played with U.S. Army bands, Marine Corps bands, Air Force bands and Navy bands. It’s a really wonderful group.”

Miller founded the ensemble not only to dazzle crowds with popular American music but to serve the entire Suncoast community with high-quality wind ensemble literature played at a professional level. The players in the ensemble also serve as role models for young musicians, and they often invite local students to perform alongside them. Ensemble participants are not just from the Sarasota-Manatee area either; they trek in from across the state for shows.

“I have two people who venture here from Orlando to play our concerts,” Miller says. “Everyone gets really excited about our performances and they’re willing to travel for them.”

Assembling the group has been an enjoyable experience for Miller, who is continually impressed with the available talent in Lakewood Ranch and beyond.

The ensemble was first born in 2019 after Miller met with 33 musicians during a two-hour reading session in the Manatee High School’s band room in Bradenton. With the help of John Cooley, the group’s personnel manager, and Diane Nichols, the clarinetist, a schedule was developed and a lineup was created. Currently, the ensemble musicians perform in no fewer than 14 other performing groups throughout the concert season. They are undoubtedly busy, but they make the ensemble a top priority.

The ensemble’s premiere concert was in late November 2019 at the Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church Hall in Lakewood Ranch. From the start, the ensemble’s objective was to perform three concerts during the season, from November through May of every year (but, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted that goal). Things have since shifted, and now the ensemble is thrilled to be back on the regular performance circuit, with safety precautions in place.

Staying active is important to Miller, who played with the Venice Symphony for 11 years prior to creating the ensemble. He has been performing since the age of 12, initially as a first chair solo cornet player in his father’s concert band in Mechanicville, New York. Miller later taught physics and chemistry in high school for years before shifting in 1975 to become a junior high/high school music educator and band director.

In 1994, he founded and directed the Capital Region Wind Ensemble, composed of the finest performing and teaching musicians in the Albany, New York region. For decades, Miller performed with concert bands, big bands, show bands, symphony orchestras and pit orchestras. He has high hopes for his latest ensemble, but there is still quite a bit of growing to do, he says.

“I would like to see us have a real public performance venue,” Miller says. “Right now, we’re still borrowing instruments from different bands.”

They are traveling from venue to venue, bringing with them new pieces and performers as they evolve. For the Thanksgiving concert, for example, a student musician will be making an appearance with the ensemble, Miller says.

“His name is Joshua Worthington and he is a French horn player and a high school student,” Miller says. “Vic Mongillo, his teacher, is also playing trumpet in the show.”

Having this multigenerational artistry in the ensemble helps keep the musical magic alive for all ages of crowds.

“I’m happy to give people the experience of seeing such a professional band in their community, and to give the opportunity to young folks to participate in it,” Miller says. “You just never know what you’ll get when you arrive at one of our concerts. There’s always something to learn and enjoy.”

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