The FCB Big Band, under the direction of Randy Barber, is scheduled to perform July 25 at the Heritage Park amphitheater as part of the Stars in the Park summer concert series.

The FCB Big Band, under the direction of Randy Barber, is scheduled to perform July 25 at the Heritage Park amphitheater as part of the Stars in the Park summer concert series.

Photo provided by Jim Liska


Big band, chorus gear up for traditional Stars in the Park performance

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published July 16, 2019

 The Farmington Community Chorus, under the direction of Steve SeGraves, is scheduled to perform Aug. 1 at the Heritage Park amphitheater.

The Farmington Community Chorus, under the direction of Steve SeGraves, is scheduled to perform Aug. 1 at the Heritage Park amphitheater.

Photo provided by Jerome Addison

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Returning for their 31st consecutive year to the Stars in the Park summer concert series, the Farmington Community Band’s Big Band and the Farmington Community Chorus have been staple performers of the program since its inception in 1988.

The FCB Big Band will perform July 25, followed the next week by a performance from the Farmington Community Chorus Aug. 1.

 

Farmington Community Band
Under the direction of Randy Barber — the son of Paul and Fern Barber, who created the Farmington Community Band back in 1966 — the FCB Big Band is excited to be invited back to the Heritage Park amphitheater stage for another year with the Stars in the Park concert series.

“It’s nice to have the community want us back,” Barber said as he explained why he loves coming back year after year. “It’s a free thing, (and) we’re a nonprofit organization, and everyone that plays in the band, they do it for the love of the music and giving back to the people. That’s definitely my favorite part about it.”

Barber, who has been the FCB Big Band director for 17 years, said the group plans to bring a wide variety of music and genres to the stage, all under the guise of what a jazz band can normally perform.

From big band-era swing to newer contemporary composition, as well as some ’70s and ’80s jazz and rock ’n’ roll covers, the band plans to play a variety of music so “everyone can have a favorite tune” once the concert is over.

The FCB Big Band usually comprises five saxophones, four trombones and four trumpets — making up the brass section — and a four-piece rhythm section, explained Mike Weise, the general manager of the FCB and a saxophonist with the FCB Big Band.

With this ensemble, the group is able to showcase everything from swing to jazz tunes to Rat Pack influences. It can also be found playing tunes from other well-known stars like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Weise said.

This year, the group plans to perform a variety of old jazz standards, including “Cherokee,” “Four,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Green Onions” and “Devil Moon.”

“We try to mix it up and do a different program every year and bring new tunes to the show,” Barber said. “We also have a vocalist coming with us this year, and he’s going to do a few tunes and add sort of a Frank Sinatra flair to some of the tunes.”

At the end of the performance, Barber simply hopes attendees walk away “happy they got to enjoy some live jazz.”

For more information on the FCB Big Band and how to get involved if interested, visit fcbmusic.org/fcb-big-band.

 

Farmington Community Chorus
In his 30th year as director of the Farmington Community Chorus, Steven SeGraves said the group is looking forward to returning to the Heritage Park amphitheater stage for its annual Stars in the Park performance.

“The group always looks forward to it, and it’s a lot of fun,” SeGraves said. “We represent the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills, so it’s nice to be featured in the series every summer. That’s been a tradition.”

This year, the FCC plans to bring a variety of Broadway numbers to the stage, including “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” from “My Fair Lady”; “Seasons of Love,” from “Rent”; “Do You Hear the People Sing,” from “Les Miserables”; “We Go Together,” from “Grease”; and plenty more.

The group has roughly 65-70 singers currently, and SeGraves said that with that many people, it really opens up the opportunity to perform a wide variety of music from different genres.

“When you have that many, you’ve got the resources of the voices where you can do just about any kind of music, and do it strongly,” he said. “I jokingly call us the schizophrenic choir because we do gospel music, we do pop music, we do Broadway, jazz or classical, and every once in a while, we throw in some country.

“We do just about everything, and we have fun doing it,” he added.

This year the choir will be accompanied by Jennifer Gayle on piano, Brian Buckmaster on percussion, Eric Lundquist playing woodwind instruments, and Dale Anderson playing bass.

Aside from having such a large group, SeGraves said he thinks his choir is a great model for diversity and inclusiveness, something that adds strength to its overall performance.

“We have black and white singers, old and young singers. We have soloists and people who would never be caught dead singing a solo,” he said. “Instead of focusing on something we have no control of, we focus on what we have in common, and that’s a love for music. We’re all different, but we all come together and (make) music as if we are one instrument.”

SeGraves said the summer performance is always more relaxed than their other annual concerts, so he hopes people come out, bring a picnic dinner if they want, get up and do some dancing with their kids, and enjoy the performance.

For more information on the FCC or how to get involved if interested, visit farmingtonchorus.com.

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