This is a bit late, but I have to talk about the great concert I heard Saturday night (Dec. 10) in Lake Worth. The Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches did its annual Christmas performance, and it was anything but a tired rendition of the same old stuff you hear year in and year out on the radio and in the shopping malls.
Huh-uh. The band managed to convey the warm holiday spirit, often hewing to the Christmas classics, but with perky arrangements that compelled the attention of listeners. A good example was a medley of favorites rendered in minor keys, imbuing them with an edge that sharpened these time-worn tunes with an intriguing newness.
Yes, there was a compilation of time-honored carols that kept the standard keys intact, but they were fused so adroitly that blasé never intruded. Throughout the concert, the 65-piece ensemble, under the direction of Mark Humphreys, was sharp and cohesive, and featured section solos that shined. Comprised of musicians from all walks of life, including music education, this winds band performed with a professionalism seldom heard in community ensembles.
It managed to do so while providing an entertainment dimension that kept the sell-out audience at the Duncan Theatre of Palm Beach State College riveted. In addition to a few clownish features, there was a solo performance by a young clarinetist from the Croatian National Symphony, who added piquancy to the clarinet section by playing first chair all evening. Percussionist Steve Salo, a longtime member of Florida Atlantic University jazz bands, commanded attention on the congas.
The band’s next concert is Jan. 28 at the Duncan Theatre and Jan. 30 at the college’s Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens. Dr. Bill Prince, formerly the director of jazz studies at FAU in Boca Raton, will be featured as he segues among a number of instruments that he plays with consummate skill.