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Lodi Community Band, Valley Community Orchestra will bring weekend of music

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Posted: Monday, April 24, 2017 5:30 pm

Music lovers are in for a treat next weekend.

First comes “Back to Broadway,” a Saturday night full of big band music and showtune classics from the Great White Way, dinner and dancing.

Then comes a Sunday evening orchestral performance, ranging from classical to the jazzy tunes from “Chicago.”

The two concerts will go to support two distinctly grassroots musical groups with Lodi ties: The Lodi Community Band, and the Valley Community Orchestra of San Joaquin.

‘Back to Broadway’ with the Lodi Community Band

The Lodi Community Band’s April 29 event is the “big one,” said Robert Gross, who plays the French horn in the band. He’s active not just in the Lodi band but several others in the area.

The Lodi Community Band puts on several concerts a year, but the annual dinner and dance — this year’s “Back to Broadway” event — is the band’s biggest fundraiser.

The evening will kick off with dancing to In the Mood, a Stockton swing band.

“A bunch of guys get together and play old-time swing music,” Gross said.

After some time spent cutting a rug on the dance floor, guests will enjoy a tasty dinner of tri-tip, scalloped potatoes, vegetables and dessert.

Then comes Gross’ favorite part.

“I enjoy the concert the most,” he said with a smile. He has the chance to do what he loves: perform with the band.

The concert will feature music from several Broadway shows — a medley of Golden Age tunes, plus selections from “Grease,” “The King and I,” “Jersey Boys,” “Wicked,” and “Mamma Mia!”

This year’s concert is dedicated to Alfred H. Muller, a Delta College drama instructor who was known for his major contributions to the local performing arts scene, the band said. Muller passed away on Jan. 22 at the age of 84.

Fans of the Lodi Community Band are encouraged to book tickets now — the annual dinner and dance fundraiser often sells out, Gross said.

Classical to contemporary with the Valley Community Orchestra

On April 30, the Valley Community Orchestra of San Joaquin will take on the suite from the musical “Chicago,” Hadyn’s “Symphony No. 104,” and Percy Grainger’s “Molly on the Shore.”

The orchestra is new to the area. They formed four years ago, and only recently began giving concerts. They perform two to three times a year, with two of the concerts usually being held in Lodi, said Nancy Mellor, who plays the cello.

“We’re a good community orchestra,” she said.

A few of the members have also been in the Lodi Community Band, but VCO includes strings, as well as a number of members from outside Lodi — some from as far as Manteca.

The upcoming concert has been in the works for a while.

“We wanted to do the symphony. We haven’t yet played a symphony all the way through,” Mellor said.

However, the symphony didn’t want to perform an exclusively classical concert, so they added Grainger’s piece and selections from the jazz musical “Chicago.”

The orchestra’s jazz trumpeter was thrilled by the choice, Mellor said, and so was the drummer.

“She ends up just whacking those drums like nobody’s business,” she said.

The concert will be held at Lodi’s United Congregational Christian Church, which is a great performance space, Mellor said. The church has a huge, raised platform that gives the orchestra plenty of space to play.

The orchestra has been able to fill the church’s seats every time they’ve played, but as much as they love entertaining Lodi crowds, that’s not the only reason they enjoy the concerts.

“We have an awfully good time playing,” Mellor said.

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