High Notes

By Hannah Wallace April 30, 2004

Bradenton CPA Jim Daniel fiddles around during tax season, but not with his clients' books. Daniel plays string bass after hours with the Sarasota Pops Orchestra.

The Winter Park native, who moved to Bradenton in 1982, started playing bass in junior high school. "I stuck with it and found out I was pretty good," he says, despite (or maybe because of) an elderly teacher who'd rap him on the knuckles with a ruler when his hands weren't positioned perfectly. While majoring in music at USF, he performed with what is now the Florida Orchestra. "My junior year I realized if this is all you know how to do, you're going to be in trouble," he says, so he switched his major to business. Before hitting the accounting books permanently, however, he hit the road, playing in the orchestra of the national touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar and in Barry Manilow's first national tour.

Today, between his active CPA practice and his gigs with the Pops and his church choir, Daniel devotes 10 to 12 hours a week to music. "It keeps me sane," he says. "You've got to realize work is not the only thing in life. That's where the music comes. It's actually relaxing. I had a Pops rehearsal last night, then came back to the office at 9:30 and worked till midnight."

The Sarasota Pops Orchestra gives concerts from October through May at various venues throughout the region. Its board has turned to Daniel to negotiate contracts, resolve conflicts, and help solve other business issues. He praises the "very high level of musicianship" from the eclectic ensemble, which includes a doctor, dentist, chef, chemist, banker, computer technician and pool company owner, some retirees and a few students.

"There's no way to describe the feeling of being part of a group that's putting together a concert-the sum of everyone coming together to achieve a common goal," says Daniel. "When you do it right, it's a beautiful thing."

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