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Top Brass

Maui’s Community Band rocks the rock.

December 17, 2009
Barry Sultanoff

Under the principal direction of Lisa Owen, the Maui Community Band (MCB)—which until that evening, I didn’t know existed—rocked! Guest soloist Martin Berinbaum, former head of bands at the University of British Columbia, electrified the audience with Leroy Anderson’s Triumpeter’s Holiday.

Two assistant conductors took the baton that night as well: Stephen Rodrigues, the entertaining band director at Baldwin High School, and Lance Jo, conductor of the Maui Youth Philharmonic.

Spurred by their passion for the art of musical performance, a group of Maui musicians gathered early in 2003 to activate their mutually held vision to create a Maui community band.

Article Photos

Lisa Owen is the enthusiastic “fearless leader” of the Maui Community Band.
Photo: Gerald Barron

From the outset, this diverse group carried high hopes and expectations. It included jazz musicians who wanted to hone their music-reading skills and high school students seeking more opportunities to play. Most of them, however, were musicians who had played in the local band programs and had long since graduated.

Lisa Owen, a seasoned musician originally from Stockholm, Sweden, and formerly a music teacher at Seabury Hall, became the group’s enthusiastic “fearless leader.”

As a young girl in Stockholm, Lisa admired Louis Armstrong.

Lisa was drawn to brass instruments. She played the trumpet and the trombone early on. But she fell in love with the tuba.

“The deep, rich, meditative sound went straight to my soul. To this day, I still get that same feeling whenever I play. I didn't pick the tuba—it picked me.”

Though she isn’t yet in the Guinness Book of World Records, Lisa may already be, at age 65, the oldest professional female tubist in the world. She quipped, “I know of several old guys still playing the tuba in their 70s, but I don't know of any woman who is.”

Today the Maui Community Band that Lisa directs is a diverse group of over 50 members ranging in age from 12 to 74. Its repertoire includes marches, Broadway tunes, Hawaiian songs, pop, rock, jazz, holiday music, and general concert band literature.

Its mission is to perform concerts for the community and provide the opportunity for musicians to improve their music-reading skills and hone their overall musicianship. MCB is affiliated with Maui’s Arts Education for Children Group and performs during AECG’s annual summer band festival, where it is the featured entertainment at Lahaina’s Fourth of July show.

About half of MCB’s players are students from local intermediate and high schools who are yearning for more playing experience. Others are adults who enjoy playing challenging and entertaining music.

The group is known for its camaraderie and esprit de corps, with the more experienced players typically serving as mentors for the budding musicians. The band boasts seven band directors among its membership, most serving as assistant conductors.

The band’s holiday season includes festive concerts on Monday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center and on Saturday, Dec. 26, at 4 p.m. at Mākena Resort. Both concerts are free and open to the public.

The concerts will include holiday favorites such as White Christmas and Sleigh Ride, as well as Lassus Trombone and Buglers’ Holiday, in which the band’s accomplished brass section will be featured. There will also be an arrangement of songs with the word “bells” in their titles, including The Bells of Christmas.

 
 
 

 

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