The sounds of Christmas and Hanukkah songs are a staple of the season and local LGBT musical groups are ringing in the holidays this weekend with special concerts:
South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble
The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, under the baton of artistic director Dan Bassett, will present its first holiday concert in many years, “Holiday Treasures,” on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“I love holiday music,” said Bassett, who noted the opportunity to present a rare holiday program occurred after the band’s fall concert was scheduled earlier in the year than usual.
The 60 LGBT and allied instrumentalists will perform familiar tunes, including medleys from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the beloved musical score influenced by jazz composer Vince Guaraldi, and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a big screen score from the adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic.
The program will also include “The Eighth Candle,” a piece that celebrates the faith of Jews observing Hanukkah during this holiday season. Pride Wind Ensemble concerts also feature guest soloists and innovative use of multimedia that regularly thrills audiences.
Bassett noted that membership in the ensemble, which varies from concert to concert, has grown in anticipation of the opportunity to perform the holiday program at the Broward Center.
General admission tickets for the concert are $20 at BrowardCenter.org. For more information about the band, go to PrideWindEnsemble.org.
Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida
Tickets to the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida holiday performances have always sold out quickly, frustrating fans.
That won’t be the case this year because the Fort Lauderdale holiday tradition is moving to the 2000-seat Hard Rock Live arena at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.
To match the cavernous venue, the chorus recruited a big Broadway name, singer Linda Eder, star of the hit, “Jekyll & Hyde.”
Artistic director Harold Dioquino, in his first performance after serving as interim director and being selected from a nationwide search, will lead the 120-voice chorus, a handbell choir, dancers and 11-piece orchestra in the largest production to date.
“She’s big, especially if you are a Broadway fanatic,” said Dioquino, who also noted the pressure of performing in such a large venue. “Rehearsals began months ago.”
Until Eder was signed just weeks ago, Dioquino and his creative team initially prepared four different programs. Director Joseph Murray was brought on board to weave the various musical selections into a cohesive show. Chorus members were recruited to perform in the bell choir and choreography developed for the production numbers. Additional rehearsals were held and this will be the first concert performed “off book,” exclusively from memory.
The additional work is worth it, Dioquino said:
“The guys are very excited about the chance to perform with Linda, it’s really a dream come true, even to me. She’s big, especially if you are a Broadway fanatic.”
He added she has been a joy to work with, consulting with him personally on the program and the songs she will share with the chorus on stage.
In addition to traditional holiday selections, the concert will also feature a special tribute to the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, “Let There be Peace on Earth,” a song that has been used to promote love and understanding.
“It really becomes a theme song when horrible tragedies like this happen,” said Dioquino.
Dioquino also thanked the staff at Hard Rock Live, who approached the chorus with the opportunity two years ago and have been promoting the performance to their “rock ‘n roll” concertgoers.
“We know this is going to be big and, most importantly, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to introduce the chorus to new audiences,” Dioquino said.
Tickets for the concert start at $40 at MyHRL.com.