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Traffic drives AMICCO off island

By Jennifer Glenfield, Islander Reporter

Alfred Gershfeld conducts the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra during the holiday concert in December 2013. Islander Photo: Courtesy Rick Pickwick

While it claims to be the “gem of the island,” it might soon be more appropriate to refer to the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra as an area gem.

Heavy traffic on the island in the months of February and March has prompted the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra to move some of its seasonal performances off the island.

AMICCO announced the schedule change in its newsletter, which was sent July 13 to Holmes Beach Commissioners Jean Peelen and Marvin Grossman via email from residents Alex and Ruth Richardson.

The Richardsons’ email restated the content of AMICCO’s newsletter to fans and asked the commissioners to forward the news to other island officials.

“An enormous problem we face for the future is the ever-growing traffic problem on the island in February and March,” the newsletter said. “This solution is a direct response to the many requests to address traffic issues. You spoke about driving frustrations, we listened.”

Jeanie Pickwick, executive director of AMICCO, said AMICCO has a duty to perform concerts for its patrons and subscribers, “one which we take very seriously. The well-known slogan, ‘the show must go on,’ is difficult to achieve when concertgoers and musicians are unable to reach the concert hall.”

AMICCO’s December 2014 and January 2015 concerts will remain at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, but, as stated in the newsletter, their performances will be “leaping off the island” in February and March.

AMICCO’s off-island venue will be Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 6101 Cortez Road, Bradenton.

Pickwick said the off-island performances in 2015 are being offered “on a trial basis.”

She said that “when coming onto the island for shopping, visiting or a great day at the beach, we are not as anxious about the delay, but when trying to get to a 2 p.m. concert start, a lengthy delay is a problem.”

AMICCO was founded in 1992 and has performed its concerts mostly in the sanctuary of Crosspointe Fellowship in Holmes Beach. It is made up of professional and volunteer musicians, performing four concerts a year. An outdoor concert added at Coquina Beach this year — Symphony in the Sand — is scheduled to repeat next year.

Part of its mission statement includes fostering musical development of youth in the community, which resulted in a young-artist competition in Manatee and Sarasota counties for eight years. The winner then performs at a concert with AMICCO.

“AMICCO will continue to support and be a cultural mainstay of the island. We have proven our community support again and again by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other island nonprofits for the benefit and continued cultural enrichment of island residents and visitors. Anna Maria Island is our home,” said Pickwick.

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