St. Petersburg Jazz Orchestra Enters The Scene

When a region emerges onto the cultural scene, people take notice and the creatives come out to share their talent and get in on the awakening. This is what happened to Michael Faiella and the members of the newly formed jazz orchestra known as the St. Petersburg Jazz Orchestra.

It's been a dream of Faiella's, owner of renowned Ami Jewelers and president of the St. Petersburg Jazz Orchestra, to start an orchestra. When he decided to open his shop at the Vinoy in 2009, he decided he would simultaneously launch the band. By September 2010, the orchestra was formerly organized and has been rehearsing ever since.

There are 16 orchestra members, ranging in age from 21-50+ and one vocalist. "All of the members are top-notch musicians in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas," says Faiella, who plays the saxophone and woodwind instruments. "They're all extremely qualified and professional."

Why St. Petersburg? Faiella says he noticed the cultural development in St. Petersburg and its rapid growth. Noting the arrival of Chihuly and places like the Dali, Faiella says he feels that St. Petersburg likes music and will be the perfect place for a jazz orchestra, fitting right into the community and what happens in St. Pete.

Tom Sexauer, owner of Florida Fresh Marketing Inc. seconds that notion. Sexauer, president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Business Association, and met Faiella when he became a member of the association with his jewelry store. Faiella invited Sexauer to a rehearsal at the Vinoy, where the orchestra practices on Sundays.

Sexauer says, "It just blew me away. If you closed your eyes, you would've sworn you were in New York in the 1940s and Ella Fitzgerald was there. It was unbelievable." Sexauer was so impressed by the group, he is now serving as executive vice president.

The St. Petersburg Jazz Orchestra will have its first public performance at New Year's in November, a benefit for Creative Clay on Friday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. The event will be held at the Historic Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg and is free.

In coming weeks, the St. Petersburg Jazz Orchestra will solidify status as a 501(c)3 and create a 22-member board. For more information, call Faiella at Ami Jewelers at 727-824-8007 or click here.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Sources: Michael Faiella, Tom Sexauer
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