Concert band celebrates nearly three decades

CARLSBAD — For almost 30 years, the Coastal Communities Concert Band has been playing beautiful music for audiences locally and around the world from Hawaii to Europe.

In 2001, they won the gold medal at the fourth annual International Alpine Music Festival in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

The band offers three concerts a year at the Carlsbad Community Church. The next is their 29th Anniversary Concert on Feb. 19, which will feature Joseph Lovinsky, French horn soloist with the U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Robert Fleming, conductor, Coastal Communities Concert Band. “I guarantee that anybody who comes to our concerts will go home whistling,” he said. “We give them tunes that they recognize and want.” Courtesy photo

“Our High School Honor Band Concert in April, which I really enjoy, includes 32 students from the San Dieguito Union High School District bands who come and rehearse with us three times,” said conductor Dr. Robert Fleming. “They play the second half of the concert, and it’s a good experience for them.”

Last year the band awarded one $1,500 Caneva Scholarship for music education and four $750 scholarships to students during the concert.

Beginning this year the band will award $6,000 in music education scholarships for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students in the Cardiff School District and the Encinitas Union Elementary School District.

“Currently our band volunteers go into third grades, play for the kids and then let them try their instruments,” said Richard Radosh, board member in charge of development. “They are excited about participating in the after school band grant program in the fourth grade next fall.”

Radosh says he hopes to expand the program to other school districts.

The band was started by musicians Jan Turnage and Judy Thum, who met at their children’s soccer game in 1983.

“I talked to the principal of the San Dieguito Adult School and asked if we could use his band room and he said, ‘sure.’” Thum said. “Doug Campbell, the band director, joined us and still plays percussion.”

Beginning with 14 members, the band has grown to 77 members. Even though it has outgrown the band room, the band continues to be offered as a class at San Dieguito Adult School.

Robert Vriesman was the first conductor, serving from 1983 to 1987. Don Caneva was conductor from 1987 until his death in 2008. Fleming has been the conductor since that time.

“The average age of our members is at least 62,” Fleming said. “But with that comes a tremendous amount of experience. I’m used to high school students who take 10 to 12 times to get it right. College kids take three to four times. With this group, one rehearsal usually does it.”

He added, “Carl Janelli, a tenor sax, is 83 but he does all the solos and people eat him up. He’s a tremendous jazz player and keeps getting better and better.”

Fleming explained that the band makes a point of playing popular songs that everyone knows.

“I guarantee that anybody who comes to our concerts will go home whistling,” he said. “We give them tunes that they recognize and want.”

Fleming encourages audience participation, sometimes telling concert goers to feel free to stand up and conduct the orchestra from their seats or even to walk to the front of the concert hall and dance if they feel like it.

Twice a year the band performs at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, including the holiday season where they provide entertainment for a fundraiser benefitting Meals on Wheels. This year the band raised $16,000 for the nonprofit, a $2,000 increase from last year.

For ticket information, call Kris Sims at (760) 436-6137. For additional information, visit or call Judy Thum at (760) 436-0783.

Concert schedule:

February 19: 29th Anniversary Concert, Carlsbad Community Church

April 29: High School Honor Band Concert, San Dieguito Academy Gymnasium

May 20: Spring Concert, Carlsbad Community Church

July 4: On the Green (middle of town), Rancho Santa Fe (free)

Aug. 19: Summer Pops Concerts, California Center for the Arts, Escondido

Oct. 14: Fall Concert, Carlsbad Community Church

Dec. 2 : Holiday Concert, California Center for the Arts, Escondido


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