Local News

Sequestration cancels SFSC show

AVON PARK - A free concert the U.S. Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors were hosting Friday for Highlands County residents has been canceled due to cutbacks from the federal budget sequestration. The cancelation of the 7:30 p.m. show at the South Florida State College Theatre for the Performing Arts also means that three local high school students who were going to perform with the ensemble will not get that chance this year. Avon Park High School Band Director Anthony Jones said one of his students, Shane Robbins, was going to play the trumpet for one number and was disappointed when he heard the plans were nixed. Another student, Ashton Abela, who is Lake Placid High School's band captain, was going to play the saxophone.
Band directors from area high schools were given the chance to send student nominations for the instruments the Army band could accommodate. “They don’t get that kind of opportunity,” he said of the students, and found it “pretty amazing” how something in Washington could end up affecting them in Avon Park. The theater’s box office manager Lorrie Smith said they got news of the cancelation just before the college was out for spring break. A representative of the U.S. Army Field Band said all military bands have been told to cancel shows on the road and only perform within a 50-mile radius of their home base. The Jazz Ambassadors is the official touring big band of the United States Army. The 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, has appeared in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe. While the SFSC concert was free, those who were interested in attending had to go online and get tickets. Smith said 500 people had signed up. The notice of the cancelation has been emailed to ticket holders, along with posters in their lobby and a notice on their playbill. SFSC usually has a military band play during the season. When the bands are in the area, they call the theater to see if they are interested. The $85 billion cut in federal spending through Sept. 30 has affected not just the travel budgets of military bands. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, along with many National Guard units, maintain some 148 bands, with an estimated total cost of about $388 million a year. The Air Force has announced it’s halting flyovers at football games and air shows, at least through the end of the fiscal year in September. The Thunderbirds, the aerial demonstration team known for its dizzying tricks, will be grounded, too, reports the Washington Post. U.S. Navy on Tuesday announced it was canceling all the air shows its Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron had scheduled for the rest of the year, CNN reports