Jacksonville Symphony performs in Ponte Vedra at annual BRASS gala


The Jacksonville Symphony came to Ponte Vedra last weekend, performing a special concert at the annual gala for BRASS (Beaches Residents Actively Supporting the Symphony).

Held April 23 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, the evening featured a cocktail reception, dinner and live auction for such special experiences as the opportunity to have symphony musicians perform a concert in the high bidder’s home, all-week tournament tickets to THE PLAYERS Championship 2017 and the chance to conduct the symphony at the 2018 BRASS gala. Jacksonville Symphony Associate Conductor Nathan Aspinall then conducted the symphony in a concert that included John Philip Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March,” Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture, Op. 92” and “Intermezzo” from Act III of Puccin’s “Manon Lescaut” as well as selections by Elgar, Schubert and Strauss.

A special highlight of the evening was a performance by 8-year-old violinist Leila Warren, who recently won the grand prize in the 2017 BRASS Ring Student Music Competition. Gala attendees gave a standing ovation for Warren, the youngest musician ever to win the competition’s grand prize, which includes a $500 music scholarship.

Proceeds from the gala support BRASS’s efforts to promote concert attendance and support music education while providing financial support to the Jacksonville Symphony. The nonprofit, all-volunteer group’s support, Jacksonville Symphony CEO Robert Massey said, is critical.

“BRASS is absolutely vital to the symphony’s growth in Northeast Florida,” Massey said at the gala, noting that thanks to BRASS’s support, the symphony’s reach has grown from 160,000 people to 201,000 people, 70,000 of whom are children.

Symphony Board Chairman Matthew McAfee agreed.

“BRASS members are the lifeline of the symphony,” he said. “The Beaches communities are critical to our ongoing success.”