Miami Proud: South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ+ organization is building great music and community

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MIAMI – Once a week, the gymnasium at St. Mark’s Episcopal School in Fort Lauderdale is filled with the beautiful music of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble.

Led by Dan Bassett, the artistic director, they are rehearsing for their 36th season. The orchestra of all instruments except strings began as the Flamingo Freedom Band.

“It was a really fun little band rehearsing out the back of the church and it’s only grown since then,” Bassett said.

Made up of more than 60 active artists aged between 20 and 80, they give live concerts to audiences of all ages. It is a non-profit organization whose mission goes beyond good music.

“It’s a safe space for all people, not just LGBTQ people, but all people and their allies,” Bassett said.

Performers say it’s like a family. Ken Beauchamp joined last year and drove over an hour, from South Miami-Dade, for rehearsals and camaraderie.

“Everyone is very welcoming and then everyone goes out to eat. We’re just having a good time and everyone’s really laid back,” he said.

Alicia Larrea is an oboist impressed by her fellow musicians.

“I think it’s amazing! We’re playing amazing music and keeping it fun,” she said.

Trumpeter Tracey Weaver, who joined 20 years ago, has been a regular for 11 years. She said “the level of musicianship has just increased over the years and it’s a great organization to be a part of”.

The organization is fortunate to have a star on its board, including a seven-time Grammy Award winner. Gary Burton has been a successful vibraphonist, composer and jazz educator for six decades. He has since retired and enjoys his role as an advisor and admirer.

“It thrills me every time I see the band perform, I’m so proud of them,” Burton said.

The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble’s next performance will take place this Sunday, November 6 at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35. For more information and future performances, check out their website pridewindensemble.org or call (954) 667-9228.

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