The Naples Concert Band ‘Family’ Celebrates 50 Years of Music


The Naples Concert Band have decided to take out the stops and commission a piece of music for their 50th anniversary concert later this season. But it’s a group that knows how to do well:

  • He basically built the bandshell he performs in at Cambier Park in downtown Naples, raising the $ 500,000 needed to build the original shell in 1987.
  • He has sent dozens of his student members to the college with the contributions he is seeking for the Kenneth P. Wolfe Scholarship, $ 125,000 to date. Its master class program brings together performers, as well as educators and professors from the Bower School of Music and Arts of the FGCU, to student musicians in Naples.
  • Most of all, he plays amazing music. This may be because at least 30 percent of its musicians are former – or even current – music teachers or conductors. Another large percentage is made up of professional, retired or active musicians.

Two Tuesday nights ago the band were walking through Steven Reineke’s “Rise of the Firebird”, a big-sounding overture with catchy trumpets, chirping flutes, percussion punctuation – and let’s also put a glockenspiel in there. After that, they would tackle Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malagueña”, a minute and a half of caffeinated Latin beat that even made the band members’ heads jump. The end result will be in his opening concert on Sunday, October 17, at the Cambier bandshell (see information box for more details). Music lovers should be ready to tap their feet.

“I was amazing at the wealth of musical talent here,” said Harris Lanzel, who led the group for 20 of his 50 years. This talent includes arrangement and even composition. The group has their own catchy opening theme, “For Starters,” written by member, the late Gene Davis.

“It’s a wonderful group to work with. Everyone loves what they do, and we have a great time in rehearsals. They all work hard and try to play the best they can, so it’s just a great location. ”

Plus, he said, it’s not a band that, in terms of a musician, loses their lip over the summer. He estimates that 90 percent of the part-time residents who play in the group are also members of groups in their summer communities.

The Naples Concert Band is approaching 100 during the winter here. It opens its season with 70 respectable members and will attract up to a thousand people who will bring camp chairs to enjoy a shady afternoon at the park. It is musical kilometers from the 10 members who gathered to perform in front of a hundred people on the concrete slab of the first Norris community center in 1972.

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“The tennis courts were right behind the crowd,” recalls Shirley Mann, who has played trumpet with the band for 43 years. She’s not far behind Bob Thurston, who plays euphonium and has been with the band for 50 years.

The motivation may not have changed much since then for either of them. People who have learned to play musical instruments appreciate this skill and want to keep it.

“I had been playing since third year and I didn’t want to give up,” said Mann. She, like one of its most recent members, tenor saxophonist Jeff Ricigliano, is a product of the schools of New York, where instrumental study begins two to three years earlier than in other states.

They both love the variety of music programming from Lanzel, who was 31 as a conductor and a place in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Hall of Fame, before coming to Naples to – he thought – retire. .

Ricigliano recites a list of potential program numbers, from the musical “Grease” to the marches, swing songs and medleys: “There is always a mix.”

“As more Broadway shows come out, we might play some of them,” Mann said. “There’s even a classic piece or two.”

Mann remembers the entertaining band all over Florida for his first 50 years.

“We performed at Immokalee High School to promote the band’s music. We performed indoors at Coastland Mall – I don’t remember why, but we did. We even performed at Epcot,” recalls -she, laughing at a memory of Disney World’s insistence on a female band member removing her dangling earrings: “They said to us, ‘Now you work for The Mouse.'”

The group’s 50th anniversary concert on March 5 will take place in the Artis — Naples Grand Concert Hall, where they will perform the world premiere of “The Dolphins of Paradise Coast”, written for them by film and television composer Rossano Galante. (“Fantastic Four”, “A Good Day to Die Hard”).

Lanzel, Mann, and Ricigliano all emphasize the family approach that group members have with each other – friendly jokes, help for those in need. There are actually families in the group, married couples, parents and children, but Ricigliano could win the prize with four members playing.

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“Personally, I signed up because I was playing in high school years ago, and when my daughter started playing she wanted to play with me in some ways. So we both got together,” he said. -he declares. It would not be the end of the Ricigliano family.

“At the moment I have two daughters and my father,” he said. “So we have three generations playing in this group”

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers the arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / Contact her at 239-213-6091.

What: Opening concert of the 50th season of the Naples Concert Band. Dickie Fleisher, principal harpist of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, performs a special arrangement of “Malaguena”. Guest singers are Doug Renfroe and Mary Jo Carney.

When: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday October 17

Or: Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples

Admission: To free; donations accepted for scholarships

Things to know: Bring seats


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