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For the love of music

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JOE REILLY PHOTOS
The South Shore Symphony Orchestra is a ministry of the Sun City Center Methodist Church and is led by that church’s music minister, Jeff Jordan.

By PENNY FLETCHER

penny@observernews.net

SOUTH COUNTY- While the various communities in South County are home to several swing bands and rock bands and an assortment of pop musicians, singing groups and even several barbershop quartets, the South Shore Symphony Orchestra is different from them all.

A ministry of the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center, the group is made up of musicians born in nine different decades and plays a range of music from Broadway to pop to the symphonies of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. They come from all over South County but they also drive from Pinellas County, Bradenton and Sarasota.

They come because the group is unique in its work, music and mission.

It’s founder, Dominick Galati, a partially-retired musician’s booking agent, didn’t intend to begin such a large project when he gathered a group of musicians at the United Methodist Church in Sun City Center in December of 2009. Butt while there, he watched the church’s music minister, Jeff Jordan, direct an upcoming Christmas cantata.

Dom said he thought the group sounded like a small orchestra.

“I have been thinking of starting a symphony,” Dom said to Jeff that day. “How would you like to be the conductor?”

 

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Jeff Jordan is presently the artistic director and principal conductor of the symphony orchestra.
Jeff said he wasn’t sure right away. After all, he and his wife Amanda and their children had just moved to the area and he was busy with his new job at the church.

By the next day, however, when the two spoke again, they decided to try and began recruiting musicians on line and by word of mouth.

It took almost 10 weeks to gather 40 musicians who could represent most major sections of a real orchestra. The interesting thing was that they ranged in age from 20 to their late 80s.

“It’s such a thrill to see the generations sitting next to each other. You can look at the sections and see an 80-something next to someone who’s barely 20. They can learn from each other and the younger ones definitely can use the wealth of experience the older ones offer.” 

So far, the group has performed six concerts and is now preparing for one Feb. 27 at the church, 2010 Del Webb W. in Sun City Center, one block north of State Road 674 at 4  p.m. with the doors opening an hour early.

They’re planning patriotic songs like The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and musicals like “Hoedown” from Rodeo and a selection from West Side Story, along with the symphony from the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus and even a salute to Duke Ellington swing.

“The performers barely make their gas money,” Jordan said. “But they come to stretch their musical ability. To play orchestra music they don’t get to play elsewhere.”

 

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Dominick Galati, founder and associate conductor, moved to the area in 2003 and organized a musician booking agency, South Shore Music Makers that provides musicians for church services, weddings, banquet and other special occasions. The symphony orchestra was originally his idea, and he approached Jeff Jordan about coming on board as conductor.
The orchestra has been in existence now for just over one year having begun its performances in February 2010 and Jordan says is still a ministry of the church. There are about 60 players when everyone is there but most of the time between 40 and 50 will perform at a time.

“It depends on the piece,” Jordan explained. “Some require only certain instruments and others need a full compliment.”

Galati stayed involved after the groups founding and acts as both the associate conductor and acts as the President as well.

He also still runs his music booking business, which is separate.

Ken Watts, director of the worship team at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Valrico, is also an associate conductor, and June Hammond, an associate professor of music at Saint Leo University, is often a guest conductor.

Proceeds from concert revenues are used towards create college scholarships for local high school students planning to major in music. Scholarship recipients must plan to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree from a four-year accredited college or university and intend to major in the field of music education or instruments performance to be eligible, Jordan said.

As it progresses, the symphony orchestra will be a source of part-time employment for the performers while providing cultural enrichment to all who live in the area from Brandon and Valrico south past the Manatee County line, Jordan said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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