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Spotlight: Orlando Concert Band adds soundtrack to 'Fireworks at the Fountain'

Jon Territo conducts the Orlando Concert Band at a recent performance.
Jon Territo
Jon Territo conducts the Orlando Concert Band at a recent performance.

“Fireworks at the Fountain” is Orlando’s signature Fourth of July fireworks event and for the last decade, the soundtrack for the firework display has been provided live by the Orlando Concert Band.

Jon Territo is the music director and conductor of the nearly 40-year-old Orlando Concert Band. He said he and his 70-member ensemble have a special enthusiasm for this joyfully patriotic performance, and that’s why they’ve been doing it for a decade.

“It’s an honor to participate in it,” Territo said. “It’s just an exciting, like, ‘Hey let’s all get together as a town and celebrate our nation’s birthday!’” He points out that the event is a wholesome community experience, and everyone is welcome.

“I grew up in a small town, and there were three parades – the Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and the Labor Day parade. Every year, twice as many people as the number of residents that lived in the town, came out for those parades,” Territo recalled. “And you know what? It brought a sense of community to our town. It brought a sense of togetherness. I love that our city is still wanting to do those cultural, civic things that bring a community together.”

Territo, who is also a music professor at Valencia College, notes that playing near the loud bangs and booms of fireworks poses a unique but fun challenge for his ensemble.

“You can feel those booms! I mean, when you’re just watching fireworks and you’re close, you can feel them, but we’re trying to stay in time and it is not easy,” he said. “You literally can’t hear yourself, nor can you hear the people around you but for just brief moments, so I tell the band, this has to be a visual experience for you…rely a lot on your sight.”

So the musicians watch him closely. “As the conductor, I have to give very clear direction in that regard,” Territo said.

He feels that in general, live music elevates an artistic experience. “As a music professor, I think strongly about the participation of people in the arts, but I also feel strongly about how art ties us to our culture. I think when live music is played, it has a different experience than recorded music, and when people see others participating, they get a deeper sense of how music is created. And I think that deeper sense kind of has a place in us.”

A place, he said, where we can communicate through experiencing and creating art together.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined Central Florida Public Media in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.
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