Stepping Up to a New Podium

Band director Ed Peterson starts a collaboration with LCAD animation students.
Band director Ed Peterson starts a collaboration with LCAD animation students.

Ed Peterson knows now how he expects to spend his summer.

A concept by the Laguna Concert Band’s music director-conductor to collaborate on an animated film received the green-light last week. The proposal earned Peterson the $5,000 Seven-Degrees Inspiration Grant at this year’s Art Stars Awards gala.

The work will be produced this summer with students of an animation masterclass at the Laguna College of Art and Design.

While acclaimed animator Stephen Chiodo will oversee all visual aspects, Peterson will be in charge of music. “I will select a composer and arrange and conduct music performed by the Concert Band while it’s being recorded for the film,” he explained.

Upon completion in August, the collaborators expect to submit their film to a dozen film festivals, said Peterson, a 30-year resident and a tuba player.

Last year, he and LCAD animation students collaborated on a series of short films wedded to live music passages of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” which was shown at the Laguna Playhouse.

“We were thrilled when Ed contacted us to work on the summer project since the first animated clips were so well received,” said Dave Pruiksma, co-chair of LCAD’s animation department. “Having a full orchestra scoring and recording music for the film is an honor that should set it apart on the festival circuit.”

Local audiences can hear the group’s talents for themselves on Sunday, April 21, when the Concert Band returns to the Playhouse for a 3 p.m. show with a program of mixed cultural music traditions.

Titled “Matadors and Leprechauns,” the program is partly comprised of Latin American-Spanish music (Habanera and the Toreador Song from Bizet’s “Carmen”) and features guest guitarist Jeff Cogan. The Irish contingent contains a mix of popular Irish tunes including the ever-present “Danny Boy.”

In an altogether different vein, “Blue Shades” will be a salute to jazz/blues and composer Frank Ticheli.

The quirky title was inspired by the concert falling between St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, said Peterson. “We try to surprise people a little bit, to kick things up another notch, be creative and connect with a wide audience. It’s not the same old band concert,” he said.

The home-grown group led by Peterson, Pete Fournier and Bill Nichols evolved from eight members in 1996 to about 65 now. With gigs throughout Orange County, they also split off into smaller ensembles, such as most recently The Laguna Flutes.

And while Peterson’s award may attract even more musicians to the stage, the grant makers have even broader expectations.

Though Mark Orgill and Dora Wexell, owners of Seven-Degrees, have put up the Inspiration Grant money for the last three years, Art Stars winners are selected by a seven-member committee of local arts organizations chaired by Wayne Baglin.  “All selections are collective decisions. The reason we like Ed is that his project is a collaboration with the college,” said Wexell. “If the film does well on the festival circuit, it will also bring a lot of new life to the community.”

The film will be screened at next year’s Art Stars event, along with a video illustrating how it was made.

Laguna Beach Concert Band, April 21, 3 p.m. Tickets: $15/10 reserved seats only. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. 949-497-2787


Photo by Edgar Obrand

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