Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band
Entertaining Marion County, Florida since 1990
Originally founded in March 1990, the Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band is an all-volunteer organization. The band rehearses every Monday evening. Our repertoire offers a wide variety of music including marches, big band medleys, classical, popular music, show tunes and patriotic tributes. The band performs throughout the year at venues in the greater Ocala/Marion County area.
All performances are free and open to the public.
Meet The Team
J. Craig Lilly
Voice of the Kingdom of the Sun Band
The Band Members
The Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band shares its name with the city and county where the band is based . . . Greater Ocala/Marion County, Florida. “Ocala” is actually a Calusa word meaning “kingdom of the sun.” Originally known as Mid-Florida Symphonic Band, the band was organized in March, 1990, under the direction of Carlton Hughes. During the band’s second season, the current name was adopted. An all-volunteer 501(c)(3) designated organization and the only symphonic concert band in Marion County, the band has grown from the original 30 members in 1990 to the present 90+ members. From seasoned professionals to middle school students, KOS members come from all walks of life, brought together through a shared love of music and performing. The band’s repertoire, as varied as its members, features John Philip Sousa to Gershwin, light classics to Broadway, Hollywood to Disney, and popular songs of today and yesterday. Leslie N. Muncaster, Jr., joined the band as Conductor/Music Director in 1998 and, in 2022, upon his retirement, was awarded the title of Director Emeritis. David Fritz joined the band as Conductor/Music Director, with J. Craig Lilly as Associate Director, that same year and, in June of 2023, KOS welcomed J. Craig Lilly as Conductor/Music Director.
The only community band of its kind in Marion County, Kingdom of the Sun Band is a proud member of Marion Cultural Alliance and the Association of Concert Bands. The band’s regular performance season includes 10 formal concerts at their home venue, Marion Technical Institute Auditorium in Ocala; Memorial Day Recognition at the Ocala/Marion County Veterans’ Park; and various performances in support of civic and veterans’ organizations. Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band is also the proud sponsor of the annual “Veterans Light the Stars” November performance, featuring music and fireworks, at the Ocala/Marion County Veterans’ Park. ALL PERFORMANCES ARE ALWAYS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
HOW WE CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY:
The Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band provides the opportunity for amateur musicians, young and old alike, to perform with seasoned, professional performers. We consciously seek student members so we may provide mentorship and musical opportunities outside of their formal classroom. We've seen high school students who have passed through our ranks pursue careers as band directors/music educators (including 6 in Central Florida), professional musicians, and others that have auditioned for and been selected for U.S. military band careers. When we contract, at our expense, professional guest soloists to perform with the band, the soloist also conducts master classes for selected Marion County schools and their students. We also provide a channel for Marion County area music educators to perform and strengthen their own musical skills - educational opportunities that they may pass on to their students. Students and teachers have performed not only within their instrument's section but have also performed as soloists. We currently have 16 students and 11 teachers and educators that actively rehearse and perform with the KOS Band.
What is a Concert Band?
Have you ever wondered what a “concert band” is . . . or even what the definition of a “band” might be? Your first thoughts might go to school band and the students in their stuffy (or cool, depending on if you were a member) uniforms and participating in the local Christmas parade, performing Sousa marches or doing those intricate maneuvers during the half time show, while you cheered in the stands for your favorite team. Okay . . . so a band involves marching – does that mean that a concert band also marches? The short answer is “NO.” A concert band can go by many names: wind ensemble, wind band, symphonic band – or, yes, just plain “band.” It’s a collection of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments and, occasionally, including a non-traditional instrument such as a piano or guitar. Perhaps best known to the general public for patriotic marches, current concert band repertoire can include Broadway, big-band, light classics, transcriptions of orchestral arrangements, along with patriotic and current popular selections. Notable among professional concert bands are the military bands, such as “The President’s Own” Marine Band and the U.S. Air Force Band, Washington, D.C., in addition to various military field bands in the continental U.S. and abroad.
Okay . . . you now know what a “band” is; but, what is a “concert band” or, more specifically, “community concert band”? If you’ve gone to any performances of Ocala’s own Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, you know, at least in part, the answer to that question. A community concert band is an ensemble composed of volunteer (non-paid) amateur and professional or semi-professional musicians. Many community band musicians are active and/or retired musicians, educators, students, business professionals, homemakers - you name it . . . all coming together through a shared love of music and performing.
Concert bands can be traced back to the French Revolution and, during the 19th century, existed mainly in the form of military bands. The American Civil War marked a turning point in the American band community where many military musicians, from either amateur or professional backgrounds, created their own community bands after the war’s conclusion. This led to the “Golden Age of Bands” era, spearheaded by conductors such as John Phillip Sousa.
Concert bands represent the coming together of two types of smaller ensembles: the brass bands that accompanied military regiments and the wind section of an orchestra. A concert band containing a string instrument is considered a “symphonic” concert band. Ocala’s Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, with the inclusion of an electric and upright bass, is, in fact, a symphonic concert band. Today, school and community bands make up most band participation. So, now that you know what a “band” is . . . why not check out one for real and attend the next Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band performance. Concerts are always free, so you get an educational and entertaining experience at a really good price!