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updated: 1/29/2014 5:30 PM

Carle retires after 30 years directing Des Plaines community band

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  • Lawrence J. Carle, founding conductor and music director of the Des Plaines Park District Community Concert Band, retires after 30 years on the podium.

      Lawrence J. Carle, founding conductor and music director of the Des Plaines Park District Community Concert Band, retires after 30 years on the podium.
    Photo Sue Lindell

Submitted by Des Plaines Park District

Lawrence J. Carle has retired after 30 years as the founding conductor and music director of the Des Plaines Park District Community Concert Band.

Carle's last performance was the Christmas concert Dec. 15 at the Prairie Lakes Theatre.

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"There comes a time for everything," said Carle, "and now is the time."

An interim conductor, David Sterling, will lead the March concert. A search is underway for a long-term director.

Carle conducted the band in its first concert at a community festival in June of 1983 on the loading dock at Spiegler's Department store in downtown Des Plaines after Carle was recommended to the park district as the right person to conduct a new band the district wanted to form.

"In those early days, we didn't have a music library. We were fortunate to borrow Maine West High School's music, and instruments from the band program at Iroquois Middle School," Carle said.

Under Carle's leadership, the band has performed hundreds of programs. Carle brought classical music to many who would never have listened to Tchaikovsky or Vivaldi, and he brought contemporary show music to a generation that has never been to Broadway. "As a conductor, he knows so much about selecting just the right music, and how to get a band to perform at top levels," said Shelli Sarg, facilities manager and park district liaison for the band over the last 13 years. "His musical gifts to the Des Plaines community and to the concert band have been felt for years, and he will be fondly remembered for many years to come."

A music education graduate of Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Carle plays the violin, viola, cello, bass, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, piano, guitar, drums, timpani, bells, bass drum and cymbals.

His mother started him on his musical career with violin lessons in the third grade. He taught band and orchestra for 25 years in Des Plaines Elementary District 62 at Iroquois Middle School, and at Plainfield, Orchard Place and South elementary schools.

"Everyone needs an opportunity to play a musical instrument," Carle said.

He has trained scores of students and has a lasting legacy of musicians who got their start under his baton in a school as well as through his years as a private instructor.

"It gives me great joy to see my former band and orchestra students today who still remark, 'You had me in your program,'" Carle said. Of all the classical pieces he has conducted, Carle cites "Dance of the Tumblers" by Rimsky-Korsakov, "Finale to the New World Symphony" by Antonin Dvorak and "Finale to Symphony No. 4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as his three favorites.

"I like John Philip Sousa's march "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and the "Commando March" by Samuel Barber, as well.

"My favorite composer, however, it the great John Williams," he said. "I had the opportunity to meet him after one of his concerts at Ravinia. I have probably seen each of the "Star Wars" movies 10 times and I collect "Star Wars" memorabilia."

"I have been fortunate to have worked with extraordinary colleagues, both in the schools and in the band. I have had the privilege, above all, to associate with some incredible students whose talent it has been my good fortune to help uncover and nurture," Carle said.

"I have had an unbelievable ride and I will miss terribly my association with our band," Carle said. "They're really fine players. They work very hard."

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