Classically Trained: Time to strike up Laguna's band

It's the kind of group that gets people out of their chairs and into new ones.

That's what happened to Matt Wood. He hadn't played trumpet in 24 years, and for his father, it was 53 years. But after Wood bought his dad one as a birthday present, they rekindled their love for music-making.

So the Woods joined the band. Again.

But this time it was their hometown Laguna Community Concert Band.

When the opportunity to play music again calls, musicians — even ones long dormant — strike while the baton's hot. But usually only when life permits, Wood said.

"You get married. You go to work, have a couple kids," he said. "You raise those kids. They get grown up. Now they're out of the house and you start looking around — and you find your horn."

Wood, 49, works at Len Wood's Indian Territory, a Laguna business of more than 40 years. The Aliso Viejo resident also serves as the band's president. He's been playing with LCCB since 2006.

An institution since 1998, LCCB can be seen and heard at staple city events like the Patriots Day Parade, Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival and Art-A-Fair.

The band's upcoming two-hour concert at 7:30 p.m. May 7 in the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, will showcase a variety of tunes. Admission is $5.

It's likely the best musical deal just about anywhere and includes performances by two of the band's small ensembles: SwingSet and Third Street Strutters, a Dixieland band.

Featured soloists include tuba player Charlie Warren, whose many credentials include recording in the studios and playing in Disneyland's bands, and Brent Anderson on trombone. Anderson also serves as a music librarian for the Pacific Symphony.

Some of the extensive program's highlights include an arrangement of Bernstein's "West Side Story," the "Star Spangled Banner" and Linda Hughes singing "At Last."

Conductors Bill Nicholls, Ed Peterson and Pete Fournier take turns directing this ensemble of about 60 players, which Wood said is having a membership drive to brings its ranks up to 75 members. From there, the goal is 100 members and some corporate sponsorship, he said.

If accomplished, it would commemorate a remarkable achievement for the group that started with eight.

Rehearsals are Tuesday nights at Laguna Beach High School, although being in the band actually involves enrolling in an emeritus course at Irvine Valley College.

But what makes this community group unique are the efforts made to musically educate the ranks. With funding help of an $8,000 grant from the city, LCCB holds clinicians and master classes that have included members of the Pacific Symphony and other well-esteemed professionals.

"We're trying to give our musicians something special," Wood said, adding that he's wanting to form a strong relationship with Orange County's resident orchestra.

He could be off to a good start: Eleven members of LCCB are playing in OC Can You Play With Us?, a Pacific Symphony promotional event where community members will get to rehearse and play alongside the pros May 16 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

Word on the O.C. streets is that Wood is playing first trumpet on Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for the event. So he's been practicing.

"We want to do well and represent the band," he said with a laugh.

To learn more about the Laguna Community Concert Band, its upcoming concert, performance schedule and how to get involved, visit http://www.lccband.org or call (888) 308-8324.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Coastline Pilot and a classically trained musician. E-mail him story ideas at bradley.zint@latimes.com.

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