Central Park to Host Big Band Concert with Philanthropic Tone

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Central Park Main Stage will feature a free concert of seasonal standards that also underscores the efforts of a local nonprofit striving to inspire future musicians.

The Christmas Favorites concert, presented by Orlando Big Band and happening Saturday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m., will bring more than 25 professional musicians and singers together in a showcase of music from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and the modern era.

“We’ll be playing between 15-18 tunes, about 75% of the music will be from the 30’s and 40’s,” band leader Bennett Harmon told the32789. “Stuff like Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka,” The Andrews Sisters’ “Jingle Bells,” and we’ll also be doing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.”

Christmas Favorites will be Orlando Big Band’s first Christmas concert in Central Park, but Harmon is already working on next year. “This year we had some help from some of the Park Avenue merchants and Rotarians, but the plan is to make it a yearly event.”

In addition to their affinity for the same genre, Harmon and several of his bandmates share an involvement with Band Preservation Inc.; a 501(c)(3) that promotes all types of classic music while inspiring and educating young musicians, and providing instruments to musicians in need through monetary donations and gifts.

“We have several students, I should say former students, who are now performing professionals,” said Harmon, who is also president and CEO of Band Preservation Inc. “We started out with young kids and they’ve progressed, now we have a group of professionals who have gone on with their instruction, and help raise money to help other musicians.”

Band Preservation Inc. offers the following programs:

  • The Continuing Education Scholarship: Two monetary scholarships given to eligible students who are moving forward in their arts education.
  • Mentorship Through Immersion: Offering education and inspiration through direct contact with experienced professional partners in the arts community.
  • Instruments of Progress: Since beginning in 2012, the program has provided quality instruments and supplies to more than 4,000 students unable to meet the financial cost of owning or renting their own. A Free Lend Lease program recently shipped out instruments to Haiti, kicking off the start of an international help program for disaster victims.

They also foster music appreciation and education with organizations including retirement communities, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts, and local churches and schools.

For more information and ways to contribute, see the Band Preservation Inc. website.

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