Organization activities

First Coast Wind Symphony continues to operate as a cultural service organization – The Resident Community News Group, Inc.

The First Coast Wind Symphony and the Jacksonville University Wind Ensemble perform together.

The First Coast Wind Symphony is gearing up to begin its 33rd season of free concerts for Jacksonville and surrounding communities, with a focus on local composers and educational opportunities for students.

“Our last two seasons have been affected by Covid, like everything in this world,” said Ann Carey Holt, public relations manager for the Symphony. “We rehearsed and played last season, but I think some of us were rusty. This is our first full year where we are all together and in great shape.

The 55-member ensemble will give seven concerts between October and May. The highlights of the season are two collaborations between guest conductors/composers and the symphony. In October, guest conductor and Villages resident Lewis Buckley will present his own compositions at the Terry Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Jacksonville. In 1975, aged just 27, Buckley became bandleader of the US Coast Guard Band, a position he held for the next 29 years. This makes Buckley the longest-serving conductor of a senior military band in American history.

The band is proud to work with Florida-based, Florida-related songwriters. “We have a new work written for us by a local composer that we will be performing this year,” Holt said. More information about this collaboration will appear on the FCWS website when plans are finalized. Additionally, the group has commissioned a piece from American composer Julie Giroux, which they will debut under her direction next season.

The season will conclude with the twelfth annual concerto competition, open to high school and college musicians. Contest winners receive a $1,500 prize and the opportunity to perform with FCWS in May.

Holt, a French horn player, joined the FCWS in 1993. “I went to a concert in their second or third season,” she recalled. “I was so impressed with the quality of their playing. I started out as a stand-in for a gig and then I thought, ‘If I keep coming, maybe they won’t turn me down. And now , I’ve been playing with them for 30 years.After retiring from her role as Chief Information Officer for Ascension St. Vincent’s in 2018, Hold joined the FCWS Board of Directors.

The FCWS presents itself as a “cultural service organization” by making beautiful music accessible to all. Artie Clifton, professor emeritus of music at the University of Jacksonville, founded the ensemble in 1990. Seven musicians of the group are founding members and have played all 33 seasons.

In addition to its regular concert series, smaller ensembles within the FCWS perform at private events such as weddings or special church services. “We have a polka band! said Holt. “We are regulars at the downtown ArtWalk. We play in churches at Christmas. The Covid-19 pandemic has dried up most of the group’s private engagements, although those bookings are resuming.

Holt’s enthusiasm for free, high-quality public music is evidenced by his favorite unofficial gig. “At Christmas, Avondale does the Luminaria. I live near St. John’s Avenue, so me and a few of my French horn buddies are going to have a little horn concert in the front yard.

For more information on the First Coast Wind Symphony, including their schedule of events, please visit their website at fcwinds.org.

By Windy Taylor
Resident Community News

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