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Big Band Show marks 20-plus years in Gainesville

Big Band
Members of the Jazz Band and Jazz Combo have spent months planning and rehearsing the upcoming Big Band Show, which has taken place in Gainesville for more than 20 years.

On March 8-9, the University of North Georgia will be holding the Big Band Show, which has been performed annually by students on the Gainesville campus for more than 20 years.

Two groups, the 20-person Jazz Band and the five-person Jazz Combo, will be featured in the performance, which takes place at 7:30 both nights in the Ed Cabell Theater. Tickets for the concert, which usually draws hundreds to both performances, are now on sale through the Gainesville Theatre Alliance box office.

Director Andrew Santander, assistant head of UNG's Department of Music, said it takes months of preparation and practice for the some two dozen student performers to get ready for the annual show.

"Our average prep time is about three to four months, starting with thinking about the program itself," Santander said. "I try to give the students a sense of ownership of the show by letting them help select the tunes we'll perform."

While not all of the performers are music majors, Santander believes those who perform in the ensembles gain valuable experience.

"I think one of the great things about playing in an ensemble is that you get to be part of a group, part of something that is bigger than yourself. While they learn self-reliance, they also build social bonds, and learn that they can depend on each other," he said. "They also get to be part of a project and work toward something. It's very rewarding to be able to showcase it in something like a performance."

This year's show includes a mixture of styles, from traditional swing numbers like Count Basie's "Wind Machine" to the jazz standard "Afro Blue" written by Latin percussionist "Mongo" Santamaria. The program also includes the theme song from the animated television series "Family Guy" and jazz fusion numbers.

Tickets for reserved seating are available online at gta.gsc.edu and are $14.25 for adults and $10.25 for children, students and seniors. Discounted tickets for Gainesville Theatre Alliance subscribers and groups are available by calling the box office at 678-717-3624. UNG faculty, staff and students can get free tickets by calling the box office, but a valid university ID card is required.

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