A concert for America

Cindy Hazzard conducts the Nature Coast Community Band “The Good Ole USA” performance for a full house Sunday at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness.

Patriotic medleys and Christmas classics, Tchaikovsky, Bernstein, Gershwin and more, for the past 10 years the Nature Coast Community Band has provided Citrus County with first-class musical entertainment — absolutely free to concert goers.

“This is our 11th year,” Cindy Hazzard, musical director and conductor of the all-volunteer band, told the Chronicle editorial board members Wednesday. “We started out with about 35 members and I guess by upping the ante of what we were playing we started attracting very good musicians from all over the place.

“We now have 93 members from about seven counties — it’s a full symphony,” she said.

The age range of the musicians is from 14 to 91.

“We’ve seen our audiences grow to the point where we can’t fit any more people in,” she said.

The band performs 11 concerts a year, currently using the Citrus Springs Community Center for its Saturday performances and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness for its Sunday performances.

Every seat is filled — between 600 to 1,000 people show up.

However, with growth comes growing pains.

“We’ve grown to the point where we’re expending more money than we take in through donations,” Hazzard said. “Basically, we pay to play.”

She added that they have a board member who is starting to write grants for them.

“What we need is to build our support base,” she said.

Hazzard said their long-range dream is for a county cultural center with rehearsal rooms and an auditorium that seats up to 4,000 people and a stage that accommodates a full orchestra comfortably.

“We'll have no problem drawing the people,” she said. The challenge, she said, is getting the attention of county commissioners and the people able to fund such a project.

The Nature Coast Community Band will present two concerts, first at Citrus Springs Community Center, 1570 W. Citrus Springs Blvd., on Saturday, Oct. 26, and at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness at the corner of Highland Boulevard and South Montgomery Avenue on Sunday, Oct. 27. Both Veterans Appreciation Concerts are free and begin at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, email nccommunityband@gmail.com or call 352-601-7394.

Visit online at naturecoastcommunityband.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.