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Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble set to open fifth season

The band makes its season debut Oct. 15 at Peace Presbyterian Church.

Joe Martinez conducts the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble on March 24, 2023.
Joe Martinez conducts the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble on March 24, 2023.
Photo by Jay Heater
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Joe Miller, the founder of the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble, admits this season, the band's fifth, will be different for him.

Since he founded the band in 2019, Miller has been the conductor, the band director, a recruiter, a trumpet and cornet musician, and the guy who did anything needed.

Something had to give.

It ended up being his body.

Miller, who is 81, noticed last season that whenever he conducted, he was simply worn out by the end of the concert. He decided to pass the conducting duties to fellow band member Joe Martinez.

"It was the toughest thing for me to give up," said Miller a few days before the Lakewood Ranch Wind Ensemble will open its fifth season with a Oct. 15 concert at Peace Presbyterian Church in Lakewood Ranch. "But my body was telling me it was a little too much. I've done everything since forming the group."

But even though he won't be conducting, Miller will be featured on the trumpet and the cornet during "Annie Laurie" and "Poet and Peasant: Overture" during the concert.

Miller said he also is excited about the season opener because the band will be seated differently than past concerts at Peace Presbyterian. He said the stage area had been packed too closely on risers and the clarinet players felt the trumpet players were blowing right into the back of their heads.

The percussionists were pushed way over to one side of the band, which was spread thin across the concert hall.

Now the percussionists have been moved to the back row of the 44-piece band with seven trumpets/cornets and three trombones on risers with the rest of the band on the floor level.

Miller said he has been studying the layout of the United States Marine Band and decided to try out their seating arrangement. He said members of the band say it has been a great improvement.

The band tried the new setup Aug. 28 at the church.

"We received so many positive responses," he said. "It is so intimate that I think it will have a nice effect. The band members can hear so much better now."

Besides the season opener, the band has Feb. 4 and May 5 dates at the church, and other concerts still are being arranged at other venues.

Peace Presbyterian seats approximately 220 people for concerts.

Trumpet musician Gene Eohland, a retired Sylvania North View High School band director for 35 years in Ohio, said music fans should check out the band.

"I've been with the band 2 1/2 years and it only has gotten better," Eohland said. "It is a pleasure to play with such fine musicians. I play in the Manatee Community Concert Band and that is a lot of fun, but this is a whole different level."



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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