Volume 15, Issue 22  | March 17, 2023Subscribe

Share this story

Strike up the Band: Love shines through in Community Concert Band’s newest performance


It’s fitting Sunday’s concert at Laguna Beach High School is entitled Songs from the Heart, because the Laguna Community Concert Band (LCCB), which will be performing, is all about heart. 

“We really love to play music and we really love to perform,” Director Mark Lowery said of the group of dedicated musicians. “The community band is an outlet for people who want to play for fun.” 

And who are willing to invest their time. 

The group rehearses every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and hosts concerts whenever the opportunity arises – a situation that is dictated more by venue availability than systemic scheduling. 

Strike up 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of LCCB

Director Mark Lowery started conducting the LCCB almost seven years ago, after retiring as a school band director. However, he was familiar with the group, because his father played French horn with them into his nineties. And yes, Lowery was able to direct his dad in a performance. 

A busy performance schedule

The valentine’s-themed concert is the first of the year, but at the following Tuesday’s rehearsal, the musicians will receive the music for the band’s performance in March’s Patriot’s Day Parade. And then there’s a show featuring film scores in early May and the annual Memorial Day concert at Main Beach followed by performances at the Festival of Arts in July and August. 

Each concert has its own theme, and the music is selected by the directors – in addition to Lowery, Pete Fournier is also at the helm of the 50-plus musicians. 

“I pick music the audience wants to hear and music that the musicians want to play,” explained Lowery. But simply because a piece is good doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for the Community Concert Band. 

“I just listened to the soundtrack of Dances with Wolves,” he said. “It’s beautiful, but I don’t know yet if it’s right for this band. Part of my training as a conductor is listening and choosing music that challenges, but doesn’t overchallenge, the musicians.”

Click open story button to continue reading…


In addition, the vocalists, who only rehearse with the band a few times before a show, need to be considered when selecting the music. 

Strike up 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Lisa Morrice wears many hats for the LCCB, but is primarily known for her vocal prowess with the group 

Adapting to changing circumstances

 “Our main thing is a real passion for live music,” said Lisa Morrice, a professional singer who is now a primary vocalist for the community band and also emcees the concerts and handles marketing. 

 “The Community Band allows people access to live music right here in town,” she said. “Laguna Beach is an artistic community and they really nurture us.” 

In addition to great attendance at concerts, the community band also receives grants, including from the Cultural Arts Foundation. And the group provides two scholarships to graduating seniors from Laguna Beach High School. 

“We performers look at our participation with the community band as an act of love,” said Morrice. “It’s basically the same as community theater, but for musicians.” 

Strike up 3

Click on photo for a larger image

The band is comprised of more than 50 dedicated musicians who practice together every week 

Sunday’s concert will feature three vocalists and include some traditional romantic songs, spanning the gamut from the early 20th century through the 1940s. In addition to Morrice, soprano Candice Carvalho and baritone Gary Greene will also be performing.

And although the band itself has a long reputation of staying power – LCCB was formed in 1999 by three musicians enjoying coffee at Zinc Café – musicians do come and go. As a former school band director, Lowery knows the challenges of balancing the sounds of first, second and even third players on specific instruments. 

Strike up 4

Click on photo for a larger image

Soprano Candice Carvalho will be performing during Sunday’s “Songs From the Heart” performance 

“It’s based on a triangle of sound,” Lowery said of a symphony. “If everybody is playing the first part, it’d be edgy and yuck.” At the bottom of the pyramid is a low sound, like a tuba, while the high would be a piccolo or flute. “We want a balanced sound.” 

He is thrilled the community band has strong talent on all the major instruments, especially since his philosophy is the musicians who show up and practice are the ones who play. “I won’t bring someone in and move a member down a seat. That doesn’t sound fair to me,” he said. “It’s a community band. If I can’t get the music to sound good, that’s my fault, not the musicians.” 

But that’s what rehearsals are for, said Lowery. “We’re here to have a good time and everybody is here to play to the best of their ability. And it better be fun or we’re doing something wrong.” 

Songs from the Heart begins at 2 p.m. on. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave., Laguna Beach.

For more information about the Laguna Community Concert Band, go here.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


Email: for questions about advertising


© 2023 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.