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It's a Southwest Florida Symphony 'Charlie Brown' Christmas Celebration, Coming This December

Nov 20, 2017 01:49PM ● Published by Kevin

Photo courtesy of Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra‎, The Music from A Charlie Brown Christmas-Holiday Pops on Facebook.

The Southwest Florida Symphony, Lee County’s professional orchestra and one of the oldest symphony orchestras on Florida’s Gulf Coast, presents its annual Holiday Pops concerts with a family fun twist this year – A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This performance, conducted by the Symphonic Chorale’s music director, Dr. Trent Brown, features the music from the Peanuts traditional holiday animated TV show, composed by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi and arranged for orchestra by special guest, Jim Martinez.

The event takes place at The Village Church at Shell Point and Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Bonita Springs, and BIG ARTS Sanibel, on select dates in December. The concert features Martinez's jazz quartet along with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida under the direction of Dr. Brown.

Shows run from Dec. 12 through Dec. 16, all beginning at 7:30 p.m. Locations vary by date. Single tickets start at $27 and vary by venue. Family packages of $60 for four tickets (two adults and two children) are also available for Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall and St. Leo the Great Catholic Church performances. Tickets may be purchased at the Southwest Florida Symphony Box Office by calling 239-418-1500 or visiting in person, online, and at all performance venues.


In addition to the famous classical repertoire one would expect from the iconic Southwest Florida group, there are quite a bit of artistically “out of the box” events going on this year. The Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra recently presented a concert series featuring a jazz-classical fusion arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

In January, the orchestra will feature four internationally lauded pianists who all have roots in Southwest Florida at its second Masterworks. Later that month, the orchestra will perform with the feature-length film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."

In March, the symphony orchestra performs another fusion concert. They feature Brahms Symphony No. 1 on March 3, and with a unique encore on March 4, blending it with indie rock band Radiohead’s OK Computer album.

On April 14, Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra closes its season with an entire evening of Bernstein, the music of both Leonard (to celebrate his 100th birthday) and Elmer, Leonard’s brother, who was a highly regarded film composer.

We were beyond fortunate not to have sustained any damage to our office and, other than the loss of a few trees in our respective yards, our employees' and musicians’ homes were largely unaffected. Most of us evacuated and those of us who didn’t endured prolonged power and internet outages, but we are all eternally grateful for the way things played out with this storm. It could have been so much worse for all of us. We kicked off our season on time and opened it with record attendance in mid-October, which is unusually early for us. If nothing else, this served as a “fire drill." It helped us tighten the emergency plan we have in place in the event that another hurricane comes our way, though we’re all quite hopeful that we won’t see another one of these potential catastrophes for a long time!

Knowing that not everyone in Southwest Florida was so fortunate in Irma’s aftermath, we decided to hold a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund Benefit Concert. We literally pulled that together with two weeks’ notice. The Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center collaborated with us, offering up their venue for the cause and we raised almost $8,000 for the United Way of Lee County’s Hurricane Relief Fund.

Hurricane Irma did not hit the office location hard during its time ripping through Florida in September. Employee and musician homes were also mostly unaffected.

"It could have been so much worse for all of us," said executive director Amy Ginsburg. "We kicked off our season on time and opened it with record attendance in mid-October, which is unusually early for us. If nothing else, this served as a 'fire drill.'"

The hurricane, Ginsburg said, helped the team tighten the emergency plan they already have in place in the event that another hurricane comes through.

Knowing that not everyone in Southwest Florida was so fortunate in Irma’s aftermath, the Southwest Florida Symphony decided to hold a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund Benefit Concert in October, with just two weeks’ notice. Collaborating with the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Fort Myers, they were able to raised nearly $8,000 for the United Way of Lee County’s Hurricane Relief Fund.

The symphony was established by a local piano teacher, Arlo Diebler, in 1961. It began as a community orchestra, comprised of 24 volunteer musicians. Since there was no performing arts center in the area until 1986, the orchestra performed in school auditoriums and churches throughout Southwest Florida. They now employ 64 professional musicians who have been trained at some of the world’s most prestigious universities.

They are led by an internationally lauded music director, Nir Kabaretti, who continues to conduct orchestras and opera companies around the world when he’s not conducting.

"Something everyone absolutely needs to know about our orchestra is that it’s fully professional," Ginsburg said. "Just like there’s a difference between people who play baseball for fun on the weekends and a pro team, we are also a pro team."

In addition to the fully professional orchestra, there is also a thriving youth orchestra program that provides instruction and performance opportunities for three levels of proficiency - beginning strings players, an intermediate full orchestra ensemble and an advanced ensemble, that serves about 100 local students from 3rd grade through university level.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit swflso.org.

Bonita & Estero, Gulf & Main, RSW Living, Times of the Islands Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra holidays hurricane irma arts & entertainment concerts christmas charlie brown
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