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A Night At The Pops: Florida’s Oldest LGBT Wind Ensemble Crowns A Successful Season

April 13, 2023

In 1986, Mort Jonas and Bruce Freeman decided to form a musical group for the Gay and Lesbian Community in South Florida. Jonas had recently returned from a vacation in San Francisco where he had connected with an organization called the Lesbian And Gay Band Association (LGBA) that was performing at the Gay Games II. Freeman had just moved to Fort Lauderdale from Washington, D.C. where he had been a founding member of the DC’s Different Drummers, one of the more established Gay bands in the country. Together Mort and Bruce created the band that over the years has gone through two name changes, several artistic directors and many concert venues.

The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble has had the great honor of hosting the Annual Convention of the LGBA six times. The 2009 LGBA Conference, hosted in New Orleans debuted the first ever LGBA Honors Jazz Ensemble, which featured 6-time Grammy Award Winner Gary Burton on Vibraphone. The most recent conference, "Fiesta Caliente," was held in 2014 and featured a concert band of about 250 musicians onstage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' AuRene Theater.

The Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Marching Band produce two major concerts per year at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to formal concerts, they perform at pride events from Jacksonville to Key West, Christmas on Las Olas, Christmas Eve at MCC Sunshine Cathedral, the Tuesday’s Angels Bike Ride and many other events as requested. The bands regularly share the stage with local performers and believe strongly in supporting local talent. The Wind Ensemble has had the pleasure of collaborating with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, Lambda Chorale, In Harmony, MCC Sunshine Cathedral Choir and The Florida Singing Sons Boychoir. Along with these local collaborators, singers, dancers, special lighting and video presentations all add to the bands’ large-scale productions.

The Pride Jazz Ensemble is also very active in the community, playing at several events each year. Most recently they had the honor of playing at a fundraising event where Former President Bill Clinton was the Guest Speaker.

While the band has definitely grown and changed throughout the years, one thing remains constant. Their primary function is to entertain audiences in South Florida and support the community.

In continuation of this tradition, The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble will perform, A Night At The Pops! on Saturday, May 13th, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Under the direction of South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Dan Bassett, the lighthearted spring concert will feature fan favorites from the Classical Era to Modern Pop Music. Showcasing music from Gershwin to Barry Manilow; Sousa to the Rolling Stones and a rousing rendition of “Casey At The Bat” with Narrator Brian French, the uplifting, one-night only concert has something for everyone.

A Night At The Pops! will also feature several incredible soloists and special guests including:

• Flutist Maggie Stuteville, a student at Hollywood Hills High School and recipient of the inaugural FLoatarama Youth Pride Band Soloist competition, will perform Chaminade’s “Concertino Opus 107” before zipping off to her senior prom.
• Virtuoso Pianist, Ross Salvosa will play Grieg’s “Piano Concerto in A Minor”
• Jon Diernbach will be playing “Tuba Tiger Rag”
• Fred Schiff with All County Music, a family owned and operated music store which has been generously serving Broward County musicians for almost 50 years, will play the Alto Sax and perform with the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble for the first time. Schiff has been a longtime supporter and patron of the SFPWE.

“We are excited to finally perform our Night At The Pops! Concert which was originally scheduled for spring 2020,” said Dan Bassett, Artistic Director for the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble. “I encourage music lovers from all communities to join us for this fun-filled show and enjoy our talented band of more than 60 members.”

As a bonus, the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble’s Steel Band, which last played in 2019, has been resurrected and will entertain guests in the foyer during intermission.

In-person tickets are $35 and can be purchased at: For fans not able to attend in-person, a Virtual Live-Stream will be offered by Stream Ally at: for a minimum suggested donation of $25.

This performance is made possible with support from the Broward County Cultural Division. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Charles and Ruth Taylor Fund and Drial Foundation Fund and The Our Fund Foundation.

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