The Brigantine Community Education and Recreation Department will close out its free annual concert series with a holiday-themed show from the Cumberland County College Jazz Band and Wind Symphony 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Brigantine North Middle School, Lafayette and Evans boulevards.

Musical director Joe Akinskas founded the jazz band and wind symphony as part of college-credited courses at the school in 1983. The two groups have since performed several shows together annually, and are entering their 35th year of collaborating with community members in concerts and as musical backdrops to theatrical shows.

This will be the second straight year they have served as the finale to the Brigantine concert series.

“We typically do six to eight shows in the South Jersey area and beyond during the holiday season, and probably the same number during the summer,” Akinskas said.

“Plus there are two concerts on the college campus – a spring concert and a holiday concert – and a jazz showcase and a wind symphony showcase on campus. We'll also be hosting an all-South Jersey community band festival for the 14th year in the beginning of June.”

The majority of the musicians are community members, he said.

“When we kicked it off in 1983 it was offered as both course credits and as a community outreach service,” Akinskas said. “The majority of the membership has always been community musicians, including a good cross-section of different occupations and backgrounds. There are several college students who participate, but due to their changing schedules they tend to come and go.”

Warren Crescenzo of Vineland is a speech-language pathologist by trade who joined the CCC jazz band and wind ensemble in 2007, around the same time that his daughter – now a music teacher in Virginia – enrolled at the college as a freshman.

He alternates between playing trumpet and being among four vocalists, along with Buddy Cavallo, Tommy Serra and Maryanne Weber.

“The jazz band and wind ensemble are both on stage together during shows, but for strictly jazz pieces you'll see some people playing and some not, and the same goes for numbers specific to the wind ensemble,” Crescenzo said.

“And in some numbers, everyone who's on stage is playing together. It's a nice, interesting group of people, some of whom are very skilled.”

Holiday songs guests can expect to hear include “Feliz Navidad,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Greensleeves,” “Here We Come a Caroling,” a swing version of “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Mr. Grinch Shalom, “Blue Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and others.

For information call the CER office at 609-264-7350, ext. 1.

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