Things to Do in Miami: Miami Beach Rock Ensemble 50th Anniversary Concert

When Fernando Perdomo flew to London to report on the iconic Abbey Road Studios, he introduced a framed {photograph} of his overdue track trainer, Doug Burris.

“I put it on the piano that the Beatles used on Sgt. Pepper,” Perdomo says. “I wanted him to be there.”

Perdomo, who graduated from Miami Beach Senior High in 1998, spent 3 years underneath Burris’ tutelage as a part of the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble, the college’s very talked-about track program Burris based in 1972.

“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Rock Ensemble,” says Perdomo, a guitarist who has collaborated with Jakob Dylan, Fiona Apple, and Tego Calderon and looks within the track documentary Echo within the Canyon. “[Burris] showed me that I could make a career out of what many people consider a hobby. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about what he taught me.”

On Saturday, May 28, Perdomo, together with greater than 100 former scholars, will participate in a live performance to have a good time the fiftieth anniversary of the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble and honor Burris’ existence and legacy, outlined by way of his determination and devotion to the greater than 1,000 scholars who’ve come during the ensemble. Many have long past directly to have a hit careers within the track and leisure trade.

Adam Chester recalls becoming a member of the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble in 1981, his junior 12 months in highschool. For one in all his first performances, he performed Elton John’s instrumental “Funeral for a Friend.”

“They brought me out in a coffin covered with dry ice, and I came out in a white three-piece suit, walked over to the keyboard, and started playing. It was friggin’ awesome,” he recalls.

click on to amplify Miami Beach Rock Ensemble alum Adam Chester (right) played in the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble and went on to work with Elton John. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ADAM CHESTER

Miami Beach Rock Ensemble alum Adam Chester (proper) performed within the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble and went directly to paintings with Elton John.

Photo courtesy of Adam Chester

Chester’s participation in Rock Ensemble was once the start of a lifelong friendship with Burris. “I called him all the time,” says Chester, who studied track on the University of Southern California. Years later, an opportunity assembly with Elton John’s guitarist, Davey Johnstone, in Los Angeles introduced it complete circle for Chester. In 2004, he was once presented an strange alternative.

“[Johnstone] asked me if I wanted to rehearse with the band because Elton doesn’t, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” The band bestowed him the nickname “surrogate Elton John.”

“He’s Sir Elton, and I became Sur Elton,” Chester says jokingly.

When he referred to as Burris to inform him the inside track, his former trainer was once ecstatic. “He was like, ‘Fuck yeah.'”

Chester continues to paintings with the track legend. In 2018, when the Recording Academy arranged a tribute live performance for John all through the Grammy Awards, Chester was once both in the back of the piano or accomplishing a string quartet as Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, and Miley Cyrus carried out John’s hits. Chester credit the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble for converting the process his existence. “It all started to flourish for me in high school,” he says. “[Burris] was someone I respected and someone I loved.”

Through the years, the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble earned nationwide reward, gained competitions, and was once highlighted in newspapers and community tv, together with options on MTV, CNN, and CBS. In 1999, the ensemble opened the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction rite in Cleveland after Burris petitioned the development’s organizers. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Curtis Mayfield had been some of the inductees that 12 months.

“Music is the one thread that keeps us all together and on a certain track,” Burris informed CBS New Sunday Morning in 2000. He died in 2016 from headaches from a couple of sclerosis.

click on to amplify Sammy Gonzalez took over as director of the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble in 2017. - PHOTO BY CHRISTINE OLIVERA

Sammy Gonzalez took over as director of the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble in 2017.

Photo by way of Christine Olivera

After Burris’ retirement in 2012, Rock Ensemble struggled to fill its management void. For a number of years, it was once controlled by way of former scholar Iran Garcia, who relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a occupation in movie. Garcia became to Sammy Gonzalez, any other former Miami Beach Rock Ensemble member. Gonzalez agreed to take over as director in 2017 via his nonprofit group, Young Musicians Unite, whose core undertaking is according to the realization that each and every scholar in Miami merits get entry to to track schooling.

“I am a product of free music education,” Gonzalez says. “What I didn’t know back then was that I was being trained for my future by working with Burris. It wasn’t a job to him; it was a lifestyle.”

Gonzalez felt blessed to hold the torch for his former trainer. “I didn’t have a father growing up, so he was that person who truly cared about me,” says Gonzalez, his voice shaking. “He was like a father.”

Today, the Miami Beach Rock Ensemble performs about 20 displays a 12 months, acting rock classics by way of Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Heart. A.J. Hill helps the crowd as inventive director and Michael “Mac” McNamee as assistant director.

Interest in this system is skyrocketing, Gonzalez reviews. “At auditions this year, all the slots were maxed out.”

Gonzalez is moved by way of the ensemble’s persisted affect at the Miami group, particularly more youthful scholars. “[These] students see [the Rock Ensemble] perform and are inspired to pick up an instrument and get interested in the arts, whether music or film or sound technology.”

At Saturday’s tournament, representatives from the City of Miami Beach will provide the crowd with a proclamation pointing out that day the Miami Beach Senior High Rock Ensemble Day.

“I get people all the time now saying, thank you so much for continuing the legacy of Doug Burris,” Gonzalez says. “He’s smiling from heaven right now.”

Miami Beach Rock Ensemble’s fiftieth Anniversary Concert. 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-453-2897; northbeachbandshell.com. Tickets price $15 to $30.

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