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Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble begins its concert season

Peace Presbyterian will host the ensemble's Thanksgiving Concert on Nov. 27.

Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble founder and conductor Joe Miller will lead the group into its Thanksgiving Concert on Nov. 27 at Peace Presbyterian in Lakewood Ranch. (File photo)
Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble founder and conductor Joe Miller will lead the group into its Thanksgiving Concert on Nov. 27 at Peace Presbyterian in Lakewood Ranch. (File photo)
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Joe Miller, the founder and conductor of the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble, was asked to pick his favorite Thanksgiving song.

The question was apropos since the band is performing a Thanksgiving Concert at 2 p.m. Nov. 27 at Peace Presbyterian Church in Lakewood Ranch.

"I've never been asked that question," Miller said. "I am trying to think back to my high school days, but I really can't think of anything. I would be hardpressed to think of any music piece that would imply Thanksgiving.

"I am sure I have done November concerts before, but I only think we are calling this a Thanksgiving Concert is because it is in November."

Certainly, Thanksgiving doesn't have those familiar holiday standards as do Christmas and Independence Day.

Even so, Miller said the concert would be an excellent chance to families to do something special together in the holiday season.

Admission is $10 and tickets can be purchased at the door.

Miller said he uses a similar pattern for Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble concerts. He begins with a "circus march," which is a piece meant to stir up the audience and get them excited from the very beginning. Miller also laughed and issued a reminder.

"We are in circus country," he said.

That piece is "Ponderoso March."

He then schedules a "transcription" or a piece rewritten for an orchestra in order to fit instrumentation of the band. The band will perform the Il Guarany Overture. Composed by Antônio Carlos Gomes, Il Guarany was the first Brazilian opera to be popular around the world. 

"There was a band way back, The Cities Service Band of America, with Paul Lavalle that would play all over the country and they would play Il Guarany (in the 1950s)," Miller said. "I was 10 years old in 1952. We had a square refrigerator and we had an AM radio on top of it. At 9:30 on Monday nights, I would stand on a chair and listen to a half-hour concert. This one of the numbers that I memorized. I was playing cornet (at the time)."

The concert continues with selections such as Ye Banks and Braes O’Bonnie Doon, the Bonelli Symphonic Concert March, Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumannm, a Festival Prelude, The Fairest of the Fair, and The Sound of Music (arrangement by R. Russell Bennett).

Miller said Il Guarnay and Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann are both challenging pieces that his musicians will love playing.

The concert represents the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble's first concert of its 2022-23 season.

"Frankly, I don't know my audience yet," Miller said. "This will be our first full season and we haven't had a chance to build our audience. But I do know that if you don't find someone whistling your tune on the way out, you have failed."

The venue can seat up to 300 people.

"I hope people just take a chance and listen to a good band," Miller said. "You won't be disappointed."



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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