Gainesville Community Band performs ‘A Sunday at the Pops’

Popular Jacksonville instrumentalist Bill Prince makes a return appearance with the Gainesville Community Band on Sunday at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall.

Courtesy of Bill Prince
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:53 p.m.

For the fifth time since 2010, the Gainesville Community Band will feature popular guest instrumentalist Bill Prince for “A Sunday at the Pops.”

Prince, a musician originally from Detroit and professor emeritus of music at the University of North Florida, joins the Gainesville Community Band for its 2 p.m. Sunday concert at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall. Admission is a $6 suggested donation at the door.

With professional experience playing the trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano and string bass, the Jacksonville-based Prince has performed with a variety of bands in an estimated 70 countries.

Of the 11 pieces included in Sunday’s concert, Prince selected and will perform in eight including Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” Benny Goodman’s “Seven Come Eleven” and Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” When selecting such tunes — which he also arranged — Prince says he kept one theme in mind: “Those were the days.”

He wants the music to reflect on the past the way it does on his own memories. Prince grew up in Detroit when “music was everywhere” and the city was booming. His home was musical, too, leaving him certain of his future in the business. During his time there, Prince played in local clubs and learned how beneficial it was to play multiple instruments. Years later, he still carries that lesson with him in concert and in the classroom.

During his teaching career, he often thought of getting in front of a class as going onstage and performing. “You’re basically entertaining,” Prince says about teaching. “You’ve got to get their attention, and then you can teach them something. It’s all the same big picture.”

Gerald Poe, director of the Gainesville Community Band since 2004, says Prince will sometimes give a little history lesson about each song before he plays, getting the audience involved and ready to be taken back in time with songs many grew up with. Adds Prince: “I’m trying to bring back some music of the past that the people would know and put them in a friendly experience there while I do the things that I do best.”

The Gainesville Community Band attracts an older crowd, Poe says, so the music really resonates with its patrons.

Because the GCB is a volunteer organization, Poe says the band makes a nice, affordable contribution to the community. The GCB is able to offer the experience of entertaining concerts while keeping the price of a donation at a minimum.

“Pops,” he says, refer to popular, lighter pieces of music. The concert, then, is not just about culture or music, but also about enjoying something out of the ordinary.

“They will fully enjoy the hour of listening to music and go away a happier person than they were when they came in,” Poe says.

“It just sort of gets you away from the humdrum of the day.”

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