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Winds, Strings and Whimsical Music Fill Keys' Winter Air


FLORIDA KEYS -- Subtropical winters in the Florida Keys bring warm winds that fill the air with music. From Key Largo to Key West, world-renowned artists are slated to share their musical talent in venues that range from green lawns at outdoor amphitheaters to red-carpeted runways in state-of-the-art halls.

Performances abound throughout the winter season, but January offers a particularly rich calendar of offerings whose highlights are listed here.


The South Florida Center for the Arts Concert Series presents Artie Shaw and the Swing Sisters Saturday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. at the Coral Shores Performing Arts Center, 89901 Old Highway, mile marker (MM) 89 in Islamorada. The Big Band sound and songs from the Andrews Sisters, known as "America's Wartime Sweethearts," take listeners back in time to a slower pace of life.

The famous Artie Shaw Orchestra is thought to be one of the best remaining bands from the swing era. Although Shaw himself died in 2004, his handpicked successor Dick Johnson now leads the band.

Joining the orchestra are the Swing Sisters, who perform songs by the Andrews Sisters. True to the original trio's blond, brunette and redheaded roots, they entertain with some of the original sisters' 46 songs that reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts.

Contact: (305) 304-9059 or

For an open-air, blanket-on-the-lawn experience, the Keys Community Concert Band hosts a season of free public concerts at the TIB Amphitheater at Founders Park, MM 87 bayside on Plantation Key. "Music by Request" is the theme of a concert set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. The band has a wide breadth of capability and often provides a good laugh with theme songs from favorites like the Pink Panther films or "The Jetsons" television cartoon series.

It's customary to attend the band's concerts with blankets, lawn chairs, or even a picnic to enjoy as music fills the air and the sun sets over Florida Bay.

Contact: (305) 853-7294 or

An indoor concert transports listeners to the wild plains of the West as the Native American music of Arvel Bird and One Nation enlighten and inspire. Presented by the South Florida Center for the Arts Concert Series, the event is set for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Coral Shores Performing Arts Center, 89901 Old Highway, MM 89. Contact: (305) 304-9059 or


Receiving acclaim for their pleasing tone quality, polished style, secure equilibrium and superb intonation, the Jupiter String Quartet brings their award-winning talent to Marathon Monday, Jan. 21. A presentation of the Middle Keys Concert Association, the performance is set for 7:30 p.m. at San Pablo Church, 122 St. in Marathon. Contact: (305) 743-4687.


The Performance at St. Paul's concert series presents performers of an extraordinary caliber -- among them David Troy Francis, the recording pianist for the soundtrack of the film "The Pursuit of Happyness." Francis is to offer a spellbinding classical music recital set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 401 Duval St. Contact: (305) 296-5142.

On the same day at 8 p.m., the Paradise Big Band is to present a concert titled "A Tribute to Broadway" with conductor Joe Dallas. The show is to take place at the Glynn Archer Performing Arts Center at Key West High School, 2100 Flagler Ave. Contact: MacArthur Music at (305) 294-9329, or

The critically acclaimed Key West Symphony, now in its 10th season, brings together several dozen leading American symphonic and classical musicians, plus show-stopping soloists, for three performance weekends each season. The first 2008 soloist is soprano Monica Abrego, whose pliant voice has been said to vamp, cry and dazzle audiences. She is to demonstrate her artistry with the symphony Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11-12, in a program titled "Love, Scandal and Intrigue." The performance is set for 8 p.m. both nights at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road. Contact: (305) 292-1774 or

Another favorite Keys performing arts organization, Impromptu Concerts, is to present the Philadelphia Brass Quartet Sunday, Jan. 13. A week later, on Sunday, Jan. 20, the organization is to showcase the brilliant young award-winning Jupiter String Quartet with Spanish clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester. Both concerts are scheduled for 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 401 Duval St. Contact: (305) 296-5142.

January 20 also is the date for the Key West Pops' presentation of "Guys and Dolls," a quintessential Broadway musical by Frank Loesser. Performed concert-style with choreography and staging, the show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road. Contact: (305) 295-7676 or

Renowned gospel vocalist and comedienne Kaye Stevens is set to strut her stuff Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m., as part of the Performance at St. Paul's series. Stevens has appeared on the same stage as greats such as Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace and Mickey Rooney, and her recital is bound to thrill audiences. See her at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 401 Duval St. Contact: (305) 296-5142.

The musical focus turns to classical when the Keys' Island Opera Theatre opens its 2008 season with "Dean Walters in Concert" at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Walters, the organization's highly skilled and experienced executive director and co-founder, shows some of the talents that spurred his 20-year operatic and musical theatre career at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road. Contact: (305) 295-7676 or

For more information about the Florida Keys' rich cultural calendar for the 2008 season, visit


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