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OUR LAGUNA: Band marks 10 years of music making

The Laguna Community Concert Band has earned the right to toot its own horn.

Sunday’s 10th anniversary concert was a joyous triumph that few would have imagined when the idea was first conceived over a cup of coffee at Zinc Café by founders Bill Nicholls, Teresa Marino and Carol Reynolds, then an arts commissioner.

“Bill asked me today if I ever dreamed 10 years ago we’d have a band like this,” Reynolds said.

“No way,” said Reynolds, usually the optimum optimist.

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In the beginning the band had to beg to be heard. Many in the audience at the early concerts were there because of their friendship with the original band members: local conductor Ed Peterson, musicians Dennis White, Ken Hanson, Sheryl Caverly, Niko Theris, and the three founders.

“She owed me,” said Reynolds’ friend, Cindy Prewitt, who promotes of the Laguna Beach Live! concerts and knows her music.

Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda, a champion of the performing arts, advised Reynolds never to let the band attempt again to play certain pieces of music.

This reporter remembers wincing when they played “The Star Spangled Banner.” Sunday, I got chills.

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The 10th Anniversary Concert at the Artists Theatre on the Laguna Beach High School campus was played to a standing-room-only audience — Arno and Arts Commissioner Suzi Chauvel, Prewitt, Leslie Power and others hunkered down on the stairs.

Lona Ingwerson served as mistress of ceremonies and added little tidbits not in the program about the musical directors, soloists and the program.

Among the tidbits: Pete Fournier, the most recent director to add his talents to the band, earned his master’s degree in music at USC, where he was once the drum major of the USC marching band, the guy that plunges his sword into the 50-yard line at football games. Petersen reached the top of Mt. Whitney twice as an Eagle Scout.

Guest conductor Mayor Kelly Boyd needed little introduction from the circumspect Ingwerson.

“I might need a CUP someday,” she said.

Boyd conducted the band in “God Bless America, while his wife, Michelle, snapped photographs.

Lisa Morrice, whose vocals ranged from opera to swing, was stunning in a red dress — originally worn by her mother Bev Hind, also a singer.

“It’s about 50 years old,” Hind said.

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Other soloists included Gallimaufry’s Executive Artistic Director Steve Josephson, who sang a duet with Morrice; Linda Hughes; David Stoneman; Bunk Gardener, who played alto sax with Frank Zappa; and cornetist Steve Charpie who performed “Carnival of Venice,” described by Ingwerson as a rite of passage for brass players.

During a very brief intermission, Sande St. John’s intrepid volunteers, Connie Burlin, Jheri James and Marion Rice, served home-baked goodies and iced beverages — the proceeds to be donated to a needy Laguna Beach family.

The second half of the program included Jim Christensen’s “Sketches of Laguna,” commissioned by the band to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

It begins with “Fanfare,” an ode to the grandeur of Laguna’s surroundings; continues with “Pacific Morning,” a peaceful piano theme with woodwinds and harp accompaniment; and “Good Old Days,” which recalls the Laguna of the 1920s, with the tourist tents on the beach. “Keystone Cops” was inspired by the Laguna’s hustle and bustle. ”Clearly Classical” salutes the city’s art festivals and the Pageant of the Masters, while “Beach Surfing” hearkens back to the 1960s. The finale circles back to “Fanfare.”

“Sketches of Laguna” provided the theme for the concert, which was also commemorated by photographer Scott Sporleder, who contributed a selection of his photographs to raise funds for the band.

In the audience: Joan Anderson, who attends “Great Decisions” meetings with band trumpeter Bill Foster, Great Decisions organizer Jean Raun, former Mayor Betty Swenson, Barbara Painter, Patti Jo Kiraly and sister Sue Bringhurst, Paul Prewitt, former Arts Commissioner Carole-with-an-e Reynolds, Design Review Board staff liaison Liane Schuller, artist Julita Jones, Festival of Arts Board member Anita Mangels, Pat Jamieson, Glori Fickling, whose son, Michael, plays percussion in the band, and Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who has twice been guest conductor of the band.

A reception at Tivoli Terrace continued the celebration, with an ebullient Carol Reynolds at the microphone, paying tribute to the band’s Music Committee members Bobbette and Brian Cameron, Foster, Carol Sporleder, Hughes and Peterson — Sporleder Hughes and the Camerons also serve on the band’s board of directors with Steve Shabazian, Susan Hungerford and Kathryn Sanders.

The anniversary celebration regrouped at Tivoli Terrace.

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“The concert turned out wonderfully, and I had nothing to do with it,” said Reynolds, the band’s Ambassador at Large.

“The feeling generated here and at the concert is marvelous.”

She called each of the directors to the microphone to take a bow, introducing Nicholls as “Sweetie Pie,” Fournier as a wonderful addition to the band and Peterson as the glue that keeps the band together.

“We wouldn’t be here without Ed Peterson,” Reynolds said.

She also praised the city, the Business Improvement District funding by the hotels in town, and the Festival of Arts for grants that keep the band going.

Donations are also welcomed in any amount, but categories include John Phillips Sousa ($1,000 or more), Glenn Miller ($500-$999), Irving Berlin ($250-$499), Count Basie ($100-$249), Duke Ellington ($50-$99) and Meredith Wilson ($25-$49).

The band is also always on the look out for good musicians.

Interested? Call Peterson at (949) 395-3043.

Even musicians with rusty skills are encouraged to get back in swing of things.

Former Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman, who missed her National Charity League debut because the orchestra in which she played had scheduled a performance, recently pulled out her French horn and tried a couple of toots.

“It was kind of bad,” said Kinsman, who attended the reception with husband, Michael, and son, Nicholas. “I used to be good.”

And she could be good again, Reynolds said. It comes back with practice.

“Get out your old instruments instead of watching reruns of ‘The Office,’” Reynolds said.

The band practices every Tuesday night at the high school under the auspices of the Irvine Valley College Emeritus Program, coordinated by Dave Anderson, who attended the concert with his daughter, Jordan.

One of the first things he was told when he took the job was to make the band classes work.

Now 60 members strong and counting, the band performs more than 20 concerts a year, with the next one scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Memorial Day, on the Cobblestones at Main Beach. The concert traditionally follows the ceremonies at Memorial Point in Heisler Park.

Over the past few years, smaller ensembles have been formed by the band members, including the Swing Set, which performed Sunday, a second Swing group; a flute ensemble, The Third Street Strutters Dixieland Band, and a brass quintet. All have performed locally.

The Swing Set and the Third Street Strutters are scheduled to perform in the second Fete d’ Musique starting at noon June 20 at the Presbyterian Church at Forest Avenue and Second Street and other locations on the avenue and at 3:30 p.m. on the Cobblestones.

Band appearances are scheduled for the Sawdust Festival, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 4; the Festival of Arts, 5:30 to 7.30 p.m. July 27 and at the same time on Aug. 17; and at Art-a-Fair, 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 1. The concerts are free, but admission is charged to the grounds.

The band will take the show on the road this summer to Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.

For booking information for the concert band or the smaller groups, call (949) 831-8810.

A professional DVD of the concert includes Sporleder’s photos and a history of the band in words and pictures.

To order the DVD, mail a $10 check made out to LCCB, with the name, address and telephone number to the recipient, to LCCB, P.O. Box 4235, Laguna Beach, 92652.


OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail coastlinepilot@latimes.com


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