MARATHON, Florida Keys — Now in its 43rd year, the Middle Keys Concert Association is to kick off its 2012 season in January with a slate of rich musical performances.

What began as a simple quest to bring music to the Marathon community has grown into an annual tradition of musical excellence and philanthropy for the volunteer, not-for-profit organization. The 2012 season is to include six presentations, each representing different genres and cultures.

The kick-off performance is scheduled for Jan. 16 as the Guy Lombardo Royal Canadians, led by Al Pierson, continue the tradition of one of the most listened to, talked about and imitated bands of all time.

Today’s orchestra includes in its program an occasional Lombardo-style arrangement of contemporary classic pop tunes. In addition, a musical tribute is planned as part of the January 2012 centennial anniversary of the completion of the Keys’ historic Oversea Railway.

Additional performances include a piano, violin and cello concert Jan. 23 with Trio Solisti and a piano performance by Marina Lomazov set for Feb. 13.

For a foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time, the Foothills Brass quintet is scheduled to perform Feb. 20.  A 17-year-old prodigy, Conrad Tao, brings his superstar talent to the stage March 5 with a repertoire of Mozart and more.

The association’s season finale is scheduled March 19, with the String Orchestra of New York City performing cherished classics and New World music.

Tickets for each Monday evening concert go on sale at 6 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Season tickets are $85 per person for general seating and $150 per person for preferred seating. Admission to individual performances is priced at $30 per person at the door.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales and donations helps fund the association’s annual $1,000 scholarship to a local college-bound high school student seeking a degree in the arts.

Concert information: www.marathonconcerts.com or 305-743-4687

Marathon visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284

Social: www.facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywesttwitter.com/thefloridakeys

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