Coral Gables Church’s Summer Concert Series Returns
Many local music presenters take a break during the off-season. But the Coral Gables United Church of Christ starts its Summer Concert Series on June 5. Now in its 29th year, the series features artists who play a variety of styles of jazz and classical music.
“The mission of the church is one that’s very much with the arts,” says Mark Hart, executive and artistic director of its community arts program. “They see the arts as something that’s a window to the presence of the creator, whoever that may be to anyone.”
The program also provides music education for young people, and proceeds from concert series ticket sales help support it.
Performances will take place every other Thursday through mid-August. First up: The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, a big band whose legacy began in the 1930s by the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing.” Opening that night will be the church’s own Community Arts Program All-Star Jazz Ensemble. Earlier this year, this nationally recognized student organization took part in the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition in New York, at Jazz At Lincoln Center.
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who became a classical music sensation in the 1980s at age 11, appears June 19. She has been honored with the lifetime loan of the Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu, a violin made in 1741 and considered by some the finest-sounding violin in existence. Meyers and pianist Max Levinson will present works by Mozart, Ravel, Piazzolla, and more.
On July 3, it’s the Four Freshmen, a group started by college students in 1948, and whose current lineup will perform the quartet’s hits featuring signature harmonies. They are said to have been a favorite of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, whose harmonies are legendary.
A member of the “royal family of the guitar” appears on July 17. Celino Romero is the grandson of Celedonio Romero and the youngest member of Los Romeros, the guitar quartet that includes his father, Celin; Uncle Pepe; and cousin Lito. On his own, Celino has appeared with such orchestras as the San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Ottawa Symphony, San Diego Symphony and others.
On July 31, the saxophonist James Carter returns to South Florida; he performed at the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival in February. This time, he’ll be heading a trio featuring a Hammond B-3 organ.
“I’ve been waiting for years to drag a B-3 into this place,” says Hart, who has run the concert series since 2001.
Carter’s recordings include albums of songs associated with Django Reinhardt and Billie Holiday. He’s also recorded with Herbie Hancock and appears on the soundtrack of the 1996 movie Kansas City.
The final performance in the series, on Aug. 14, is by Livingston Taylor. A professor of voice at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he found commercial success with “I Will Be in Love with You.” His brother James has recorded his songs “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman.”
For an additional fee, patrons can have a pre-concert buffet meal catered by Coral Gables restaurants. All events take place in the church; built in 1924, it’s listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Coral Gables UCC Summer Concert Series continues alternate Thursdays, June 5 through Aug. 14 at Coral Gables UCC, 3010 DeSoto Blvd. (across from the Biltmore Hotel). Tickets are $30 advance, $35 at the door for general admission, $50 advance for patron seating (includes dinner). Series packages are available. Call 305 448-7421 ext. 153 or purchase online: communityartsprogram.org/concert-tickets.
This preview appears in the Miami Herald.