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Merry and Gay

This holiday season, two concerts will expand the season's color palette from plain old red and green to the entire rainbow. The Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida performs "Light," its holiday concert, on December 8; on December 16, the chorus joins the Flamingo Freedom Band for the band's annual holiday concert, billed as "Holiday Extravaganza."

The Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida has been around since 1986, though this is only its second year of performing a holiday concert.

"Light" blends a multitude of holiday sounds, from Christmas to Kwanzaa. The program will focus mostly on upbeat favorites, including the appropriate "We Need a Little Christmas." But Hanukkah will take center stage in this show, thanks to a specially commissioned work by Bruce Lazarus of Miami.

A friend of William Adams, the chorus's artistic director, Lazarus has composed "Eight Candles," an eight-song opus that explains Hanukkah to people who aren't Jewish. Expect the unexpected, from a rap number that expounds upon the history of the holiday to a beautiful piano solo that focuses on reflection, an important component of Hanukkah. "The whole work is a message of hope, inspiration, and light," Adams says. "And it's also its world premiere."

There's even more reason to expect the unexpected, including snow, at the Flamingo Freedom Band's "Holiday Extravaganza." People are encouraged to get up during the performance and fill their glasses with punch, get another cookie or two, and check out the toys that people have brought; the cost of admission is a new, unwrapped toy for a child of any age. The toys will be distributed to needy children in Broward County. The concert is an almost overly festive occasion, with some people taking holiday-themed attire to an extreme.

"Getting dressed up isn't required," says Bob Turlington, the band's personnel manager. "It just happens." Turlington is also a band member, playing alto clarinet, and the only person who has been with this full symphonic band since it started with six people fifteen years ago. More than 40 members will perform in this year's holiday concert -- with accompaniment from the audience, of course. "This is definitely a sing-along," Turlington says. Among the numbers to be performed at "Holiday Extravaganza" are "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," and a very jazzy version of "Jingle Bells."

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Dale Koppel

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