BIG ARTS Community Band and Chorus Bring Holiday Cheer

provided to Santiva Chronicle

The grand opening of BIG ARTS new home might still be over a month away, but that’s not stopping them from spreading the holiday cheer. The BIG ARTS Community Band and Chorus, sponsored this year by the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, will be holding their annual holiday concerts at the Sanibel Community Church while construction continues on the new state of the art performance hall and facility. The Chorus concert kicks off the holiday festivities Dec. 10 and the celebration continues the following week with the Band on Dec. 16.

The Band and the Chorus are made up of members of the local community who come together to share their love of music. Members come from all over Southwest Florida to Sanibel to practice from October through March. While many are islanders, plenty of others come from Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers and Pine Island.

For the men and women who make up the BIG ARTS Community Band and Chorus, the Holiday Concerts are a labor of love and also their first performance of the season. “My favorite part of the holiday concert has got to be singing that first number on the program. After many rehearsals, we finally get to share our music with an audience. It’s magical, it’s invigorating and very exciting to come together as one voice with one purpose… to share our love of singing,” exclaimed Chorus Director Ellen Whitten.

The concerts feature a mix of traditional and contemporary holiday favorites. Putting these shows on is no small feat. Ellen and Band Director, Mike Lamade, who is in his 7th year as Band Director, put in a lot of work behind the scenes throughout the summer and fall.

“The musical selections are chosen by me and my Associate Conductor, August Thoma, based on our combined experience of many years exploring concert band offerings.” explains Mike. Ellen has a similar process. “The songs for the concert are chosen after many, many hours of perusing music, listening to recordings, attending concerts, taking choral workshops and getting input from singers in the chorus.”

The performers aren’t the only ones who get to take part in the fun. Both concerts feature a sing-a-long portion that gets the audience in the holiday spirit. These sing-a-longs aren’t just fan favorites, but also enjoyed by Mike and Ellen as well. “I love getting the audience involved with the Holiday Favorites sing-a-long. They love to take part in the program, ” said Mike “I think a live performance of our concert band made up of friends and neighbors playing traditional holiday melodies kick-starts the holiday season and gets everyone in the mood.”

The joy of getting concert goers in the holiday spirit is one shared by Ellen. “I think the holiday concert gives everyone in the community an opportunity to enjoy the sounds of the season — from Christmas, to Hanukkah, to carols from around the world, to holiday music from Broadway. There is something for everyone! What a great way to bring people together, “added Ellen.

The BIG ARTS Community Band and Chorus will be performing at the Sanibel Community Church located at 1740 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957. Tickets can be purchased online at or through the box office at 239-395-0900. Both concerts are free to children and students. Thank you to BIG ARTS Community Creations sponsor the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company for their ongoing support of the arts in our community.

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