All-Volunteer Ensemble Readies for Full Summer of Park Performances • Long Beach Post

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Photos courtesy of Long Beach Community Band 


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One of Long Beach’s community-band ensembles, the Shoreline Symphonic Winds, kicked off their summer concert season this past weekend at Bixby Park. With 66 years of service, they are among the longest-running community bands.

Band president and decade-long member Amy Lind said the performance went better than expected.

“When the audience started clapping and cheering it was very heartwarming for the band, especially knowing it was appreciated by the community,” she said. “Our purpose is to enrich local communities not usually exposed to live music.”

Along with typical concert band songs the audience heard more pop culture tunes from Star Wars and Superman, which coincided with the movie night at Bixby Park. They also play symphonic band literature, orchestral transcriptions, marches and patriotic songs at a wide range of community events.

Community bands are part of a longstanding American tradition dating back to the 19th Century. Long Beach Community Band was formed in 1946 by a group of World War II veterans who wanted to form a musical community.

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They differ from the Long Beach Municipal Band, though the two are often confused. “The Municipal band is great and fun but the Long Beach Community Band is equal, just a different kind of fun and music,” said Lind. Recently, the Long Beach Community Band began publicly performing as Shoreline Symphonic Winds in order to not confuse residents. The nonprofit still exists under the name Long Beach Community Band.

As a non-profit, Long Beach Community Band was affected by the economic downturn. They have been able to continue performing with the support of Arts Council for Long Beach, Los Angeles County Arts Commission and City of Long Beach.

Now the 45-member woodwind, brass, and percussion ensemble is volunteer-based, providing free performances in the city’s parks. Members range from professional musicians to amateurs who picked up their instruments after high school.

Donna Reckseen, timpanist, was a part of the community band back in the ’80s and has rejoined after retiring from Long Beach Memorial Hospital. She was once part of the Buffalo Bills marching band. The band now provides her the opportunity to serve her community and remain involved in music.

“Music is stimulating…Especially with percussion it’s physically and mentally stimulating and youthful; it makes you feel good,” Reckseen said. “Music should be a part of everybody’s life.”

Artistic director and conductor Greg Flores earned his master’s degree in music at Cal State University Long Beach. Members said he has significantly raised the level of musicianship and added a bit of character with his sometimes-comedic interjections.

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“We’re unique because our conductor isn’t afraid to make us play hard stuff. We’re not afraid to cultivate the taste of audience but also play what they want including movie tunes,” said Pat Mullen, the band’s vice president. As a professional trumpet player Mullen said he is involved with the band because he enjoys encouraging other members to practice in order to actively participate in creating entertainment for the community.

To show their patriotism, the band is gearing up for a 4th of July celebration concert at Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital. This is a favorite performance among band members as many members are veterans as well.

The Long Beach Community Band encourages the public to come to their performances at the parks this summer and bring picnics. President Linden also encourages community members to join. “If you have an instrument sitting in the closet dust it off and join us,” he said.

“Music is good for the soul period,” Reckseen said. “When you hear us play you can tell it comes from the heart.”

For more information about the band visit shorelinewinds.org.

2013 Summer Schedule

Thursday, July 4, 11AM
Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital
5901 E 7th St.

Friday, July 12, 7:15PM
Wardlow Park Recreation Center
Movie Night–Hotel Transylvania
3457 Stanbridge Avenue

Monday, July 22, 7:15PM
Pan American Park
Movie Night–Wreck-It Ralph
5157 East Centralia Street

Saturday, July 27, 2PM
Drake Park
Blue Pacific Swing Band
951 Maine Avenue

Monday, August 12, 7:15PM
Martin Luther King Jr. Park
Movie Night–Thunderstruck
1950 Lemon Ave.

Monday, August 26, 6:30PM
Cherry Park
Movie Night–The Odd Life of Timothy Green
1901 E. 45th Street.

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