Jazz concerts highlight audience favorites
By Lisa M. Onorato
For Hometown News
INDIAN RIVER - Space Coast Symphony Orchestra artistic director and conductor Aaron Collins likes to walk the line between traditional and modern arrangements.
And his approach has struck a chord with fans.
On Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28, the Space Coast Jazz Orchestra, a subset of the symphony, will perform its "By Special Request" concert series in honor of the very fans he and the musicians work so hard to please.
The Jazz Orchestra is a collaborative effort between Mr. Collins and trumpet player John Pendenza.
"I wanted to create a group of the best caliber musicians playing what you don't get or hear from other jazz groups around," Mr. Collins said.
The result, he said, is a wide range of music, from older standards, with twists, to post 1940s jazz, featuring something that appeals to everyone.
Founded in 2009 by Mr. Collins, the nonprofit organization has become well-known for its all-inclusive approach.
Jazz performances, much like the symphony performances, are purposefully kept "cool and casual" to create a sense of accessibility, Mr. Collins said.
"We don't have the same atmosphere that you would expect, as far as what you have to wear or not being allowed to talk," he said.
To Mr. Collins, classical and jazz music is for everybody.
The SCSO is heavily involved in educational outreach programs for children and offers flexible ticket pricing with its "Symphony for Everyone" program. Those who cannot afford tickets can go online and request free or reduced-price tickets
"We want everyone to have the opportunity to hear great music by great musicians," Mr. Collins said. "It was important that we did this."
The SCJO features 16-18 professional musicians - each with impressive careers and resumes.
"We have some of the best jazz musicians in Florida," Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Pendenza, musical director for the SCJO, has been playing trumpet for close to 50 years. Highlights of his career include touring with Buddy Rich and Glenn Miller, as well as serving as lead trumpet for Cher, The Temptations, Mel Torme, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett and more.
"All of the musicians have amazing bios," Mr. Pendenza said.
"By Special Request" features music hand-picked by Mr. Pendenza and Mr. Collins from the more than 200 requests the SCJO received last season.
"It's great literature," Mr. Collins said. "We wanted to give the opportunity for people to put in the music they wanted to hear. It's everything from tradition, to out there, rocking and really laid back."
"I put together a challenging program," said Mr. Pendenza, who relocated here three years ago from New Jersey.
Concert-goers will hear selections from Count Basie and Duke Ellington, to Stan Keaton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and more.
"We didn't skimp on what we present to the audience," Mr. Pendenza said.
The Saturday, Oct. 27 concert begins at 7 p.m. at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 2030 N. A1A, Indialantic.
The Sunday, Oct. 28 concert begins at 2:30 p.m. at The Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave., Vero Beach.
Tickets are $20 each.
For more information about the Space Coast Jazz Orchestra or the Space Coast Symphony, call (855) 252-7276 or visit www.spacecoastsymphony.org.