Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

August 23, 2013

Lake Area Community Band’s anniversary concert Saturday

SYRACUSE — When Martin Becker showed up to a Lake Area Community Band rehearsal one evening with trumpet in hand he was a bit startled at the response.

“No, no no! they said,” remembered Becker. “We don’t want you in the band, we want you to direct it!”

Eleven years later Becker is still up in front of the band, with baton in hand, getting ready to conduct the LACB 25th Anniversary Concert at 3 p.m. Saturday at Wawasee High School. The concert is free and open to the public.

“It’s a journey I’ve enjoyed every minute of,” Becker said.

Community bands, he said, have been in his blood a long time.

“I’ve played with quite a few community bands,” Becker said. “I played with the Central YMCA Youth Band in Cincinnati, Ohio, from sixth grade through my college years. I’ve had a lot of great mentors who’ve really inspired me.”

After receiving his bachelor in music education degree from Moorehead State and his master’s from Ball State University, Becker became director of bands first at Marion High School and then for 17 years at Warsaw Community Schools.

“Those were pretty time-consuming years and I didn’t have the time then for a community band,” Becker said.

When he retired in 2002, he began as director of the Grace College Wind Ensemble and the later of the Warsaw Optimist Singers. It was then that he felt the pull of joining a community band.

“There really aren’t that many outlets for musicians who have played in high school or college,” Becker said. “If you play sports, there are church leagues, games at local recreation centers and plenty of golf courses — but where do you go if you want to play your instrument with a group of people?”

Community bands are the answer if the community is lucky enough to have one.

Getting started

And while Becker was directing at Warsaw in December of 1988, the LACB was just starting to come together.

When the successful and well-established Elkhart Municipal Band lent a helping hand, 20 musicians showed up for the first rehearsal on May 22, 1989, at Syracuse Elementary School.

Less than a month later, the LACB held its first concert with the Elkhart Municipal Band. The group went on to perform its first solo concert in August and finished its first season with 13 concerts under their belts.

Since then they have performed hundreds of times, including each year at the Syracuse Fourth of July festivities, Warsaw First Fridays, Greencroft in Goshen, Dixie Park in North Webster, Grace Village at Winona Lake, the Auburn Band Festival and most recently at the Carmel Band Festival.

That most recent performance was one of LACB charter member Sue Taylor’s favorite events.

“All three of my boys went into sports, so I was thrilled went Trent Taylor, a great nephew on my husband’s side found an interest in band,” Taylor said. “He’s a real music lover — plays the trumpet.  

Trent even played several seasons the LABC.

“He now lives in Indianapolis and joined a community band there,” Taylor said. “And we saw each other at the Carmel Band Festival. I had a great time and just felt honored to be invited.”

Although there are some retired band directors and professionals playing in the band, Taylor is representative of most band members. She learned an instrument in school, loved playing, but with a busy schedule and raising a family, music had to take a back seat.

But the opportunity to play again in a community band found many former musicians dusting off their instruments, or in Taylor’s case buying a new one, and heading off to rehearsal.

“I wanted to play in college, but unless you were a music major, it was hard to do that,” Taylor remembered of her experience at Indiana University. “I even ended up selling my clarinet.”

She spent the next 33 years as a teacher at Chandler Elementary in Goshen.

Taylor was pretty excited when she heard about the LACB. She headed to a rehearsal with a fellow clarinet player from high school, and without an instrument.

“After some playing, my friend said her lips hurt pretty badly and she handed me the instrument and asked if I would mind playing it instead of her,” Taylor said.

Taylor didn’t mind at all.

“It felt like I had never left off playing it,” Taylor said. “It all came back so quickly.”

By the next day, six days before the next rehearsal, Taylor had bought herself a new clarinet.

And she’s been performing since.

“I’ve really enjoyed the friendships I’ve made here,” Taylor said

She said she’s learned so much from each director of the LACB.

“They have a way of pulling you together and ending up with a pleasing sound. They know how to pick out music that helps you to grow,” Taylor said. “We’ve become a lot better over the years with each director and guest conductor.”

What to expect

The LACB will perform several Sousa marches on Saturday, as well as two pieces, one composed and the other arranged by Les Taylor. One of those compositions, “Dedication” will be played in honor of long-time LACB member and assistant director Phil Eherenman.

Former LABCB Director Mike Clark, who passed away after an extended illness last year, will also be honored. Another former director, Mike Sanders will perform on the vibraphone or “vibes” in a tribute to vibraphonist and jazz great Lionel Hampton.

Director Becker will be featured on his trumpet in “Satchmo,” a tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Six charter band members, including Taylor, will be recognized and each band member, Becker said, will be awarded for their years of service in the LACB.

For more information on the LACB concert, concert schedule or for those interested in joining the band, visit www.lacband.com

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