The LCCB began as an idea to bring free music to the Lowcountry community. Community bands are quite common throughout the United States. Why can’t we have one in the Bluffton area to perform music for the community? This was the question asked by three individuals -- Sherry Biederman, Guy Bettarelli and Jack Toritto -- to USCB OLLI Director, Andrea Sisino. An informal meeting was held at a local Wendy’s in October 2011 to discuss the possibilities of forming a concert band as part of the OLLI commitment to provide lifelong learning opportunities to the Lowcountry. Once all aspects of program mission and implementation were discussed, OLLI started the program officially in 2012.
Next came the hard part of forming the band, gathering music, and finding a qualified music director. Guy Bettarelli contacted Donald Jemella, a Boston Conservatory graduate who had recently moved into the area, and Don became the first director of the new USCB OLLI Concert Band. As the word spread that there was a new concert band being formed, musicians started to join the group. The LCCB grew in the first two years to about 50 members, and numerous concerts were held throughout the Bluffton, Beaufort area with great success. Donald Jemella retired as director in 2014, and the following year Larry Katz and DK Bennett directed the LCCB. For the 2015-2016 season, the band continued to move to higher ground under the baton of Dr. Benny Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson resigned a year later to accept a position as interim Academic Vice President for Young Harris College. But as luck would have it, David Carbone, with over 30 years of experience in music education and the marching arts as a performer, conductor, educator, arranger, and adjudicator, had recently moved into the Lowcountry and accepted the position as Director/Conductor.
The band typically performs classical concert band music, patriotic music, movie scores and Broadway tunes at venues throughout the Lowcountry. They have performed at Magnolia Hall in Sun City, The First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head, the Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head, the Bluffton United Methodist Church, St. John's Lutheran Church on Lady's Island, Lord of Life Church in Bluffton, and the Baptist Church of Beaufort. They have also performed at TidePointe of Hilton Head, the Hilton Head Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and at the Waterfront Park in Beaufort.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, in-person rehearsals and concerts were cancelled. But the band would not be deterred. A handful of bandmembers began experimenting with software available to produce virtual concerts, and we were successful in recruiting over 50 bandmembers to video record themselves playing their instruments in the privacy of their own homes. As a result, the LCCB produced two highly successful virtual concerts – a virtual holiday concert in December 2020 and a virtual patriotic concert in July 2021. The concerts were free and streamed to the public where they can still be viewed on Vimeo.
In addition to the main Concert Band, LCCB/OLLI supports two smaller chamber ensembles – the Lowcountry Jazz Ensemble and the Flutes of the Lowcountry. All people who can play a band instrument are welcome to join the LCCB.