Burbank Community Band preps for Forest Lawn concert Feb. 25

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Liberty Hall’s water-themed show includes music from ‘South Pacific,’ ‘Shenandoah’ and more

By Clint Lohr

From the parking lot at 3700 Empire Ave., outside the recreation center at Burbank’s Robert Gross Park, an array of band instruments can be heard blasting away as the Burbank Community Band rehearses for their show later this month.

Burbank Community Band’s Paulette Westphal, band leader since 2012:
“They say ‘once you’re in a band, you’re always in a band.’”

Inside, Paulette Westphal, band leader since 2012, is hard at work waving her baton, conducting the practice with at least 50 musicians gathered in the room with their instruments. Many of the players are retired, like Steve Newman, the Executive Board President of the band, who said he used to be a video editor at NBC.

“This is a huge wave that starts in the second measure,” Westphal tells the group regarding one sequence. “I need the ending to be as loud as the beginning!” As the band plays a rolling musical wave moving up and down, one man pipes up: “Paulette, we have seven measures after the fermata.”

The Burbank Community Band is rehearsing for an upcoming concert on Saturday, February 25th, 7pm, at Liberty Hall—on the grounds of Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Since Burbank Community Band has non-profit 501 (c)3 status (since 2012), Forest Lawn will not charge them for the use of the hall space, although donations are appreciated. But this venue doesn’t appeal to everyone. “Some people get spooked about coming to a cemetery at night,” Westphal muses.

“We’re a concert band—not an orchestra,” she stressed. One teacher at an elementary school told her students that Westphal’s group was an orchestra, she recalled, when they came to play there. When the band plays at high schools some music students will play along with them. “They say ‘once you’re in a band, you’re always in a band,’” she quipped. “The kids realize they can do this their whole lives when they see all the older band members participating. We have one gentleman in the band who is 93.”

Preparing for an upcoming concert takes many people and hours of work, in addition to rehearsals, she said. “The first item is deciding on a theme for the concert so music can be ordered and prepared for the musicians. After that, making sure all the details are covered like publicity, programs, food, ushers and on and on. When everyone (on the board) takes a part it’s much easier for everyone,” Westphal added with a smile and a wave of her baton.

The theme for the upcoming Forest Lawn concert at Liberty Hall, according to the band’s flyer, will be water music from productions such as South Pacific, Shenandoah and more.

For further information visit the band’s website at BurbankBand.org or email Paulette Westphal at pwestphal@mac.com.

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