The Plano Community Band was established in 1979 by Thomas Hughston, Bob McDonald, and Dick Winters, who was the Fine Arts Director for the Plano Independent School District at the time.
The City of Plano Parks and Recreation Department and the Cultural Arts Association of Plano sponsored the band.
John Friesen served as the band’s first Conductor.
Tom Hughston hired an architect to design the Haggard Park band gazebo.
In 1980, the band selected Charles Forque to become the Conductor of the PCB. Charles was also Director of Plano Senior High School bands.
John Hammerle became the band’s third Conductor in 1983.
In 1984, the band incorporated and obtained 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization.
During John Hammerle’s tenure, the band began holding its weekly summer rehearsals in Haggard Park. These rehearsals started drawing an audience! With growing interest in the PCB, the band decided that prepared performances were much more interesting to an audience than listening to rehearsals. The following year the band began alternating Monday evenings of indoor rehearsals one week and outdoor concerts in the Haggard Park gazebo the next. The Haggard Park Summer Concert Series was born, and the Plano Community Band continues the tradition to this day.
The City of Plano Parks and Recreation Department and the Cultural Arts Association of Plano still sponsored the group. The Band played for many City of Plano events, including: park dedications, the Plano Balloon Festival, Memorial Day Remembrance, and the Christmas Tree Lighting. The band also performed at the Connemara Conservancy, business openings, and area malls.
The Band began performing joint concerts with other local arts groups. Combined performances included vocal groups such as the Collin County Community Chorus, Plano Civic Chorus, Younger Generation Children’s Chorus, and the Plano Police Department Choir. The Band also partnered with the Richardson Community Band for a concert.
Additionally, the internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Ariel performed as a guest artist with the Band.
During this era, the PCB joined the national Association of Concert Bands. In 1992, the Plano Community Band hosted the ACB’s annual national convention in Plano.
In 1993, Charles Forque resumed the role of Conductor, and remained in this position until his death in 2000. Also in 1993, Jim Carter became the band’s Associate Conductor. Jim is a baritone saxophone player and was Charles Forque’s former student at Plano Senior High School. Jim still serves as the band’s Associate Conductor.
Building on the successes from John Hammerle’s era, the Band continued combined concerts with the Plano Civic Chorus, and performed with a local instrumental group called Expressions. Guest artists included Allen Vizzuti on trumpet, David Lovrein on alto saxophone and Norman L Brentley on flute.
The Band’s performance venues expanded to include the Plano Senior High School auditorium, Plano Centre Main Hall, John Anthony Theatre, and Custer Road United Methodist Church.
The band traveled outside of Plano for the first time, performing in Sherman, at the Blackbeard Prairie Preserve in Greenville, at the White Rock Lake Marathon in Dallas, and in Shreveport, LA.
In 2001, Tommy Guilbert became the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Plano Community Band, where he remained until his death in 2014.
The Band continued many great traditions during Tommy Guilbert’s era, including the Summer Series in Haggard Park, and performing at the City’s Memorial Day Remembrance and Martin Luther King Day events.
The Band began new traditions as well. They started performing Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day concerts at the Plano Senior Recreation Center. They began presenting an annual recital in the summer where band members performed solos and small ensembles for each other. Additionally, the Band formed a partnership with John Paul II High School when it opened in 2005, and has been rehearsing weekly at their Plano campus ever since. Thanks to continued City of Plano sponsorship and the generous corporate and individual donations, the band began performing at the world class Eisemann Center in Richardson in 2005. In 2014, the Band began performing at John Paul II High School’s annual graduation ceremony to thank the school for allowing the band to use their rehearsal space.
The Band also appeared at many events and festivals over the years. The group played at the Dallas Wind Symphony’s Starlight Band Concerts program at Fair Park in Dallas in 2004 and 2005. They performed at the Peak Performance Options at the Murchison Performance Hall in Denton, TX in 2006 and 2007. In 2013, the band performed at the Adolphus Children’s Christmas Parade in Dallas.
The group appeared on the national stage again during this time. The Band performed at the Association of Concert Bands National Conference three times in the 2000s, visiting Hot Springs, AR in 2004 and Pensacola, FL in 2007. The Band hosted the convention in 2010 at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, TX.
The Band’s greatest honor during Tommy Guilbert’s tenure was being the only community band invited to perform on student leadership day at the Texas Bandmaster’s Association conference in July of 2014. Sadly, Tommy passed away several months before the concert. Jim Carter led the band through a moving, wonderful performance themed “Music for Life” in Tommy’s memory.
Guest Artists during Tommy Guilbert’s years included vocalist Michele Todd, percussionist Drew Lang, the Custer Road United Methodist Church choir, teenage trumpeter Geoff Gallante, and Stockton Helbing, who is a well known composer, educator, producer, and percussionist for both Maynard Ferguson and Doc Severinson.
The new century brought new sponsors and individual donors who helped the band grow and flourish. The City of Plano Cultural Affairs Commission and the City of Richardson Cultural Arts Commission became the primary sponsors. Corporations provided funding in the form of event sponsorships, matching funds, and rewards programs. Individual donations grew dramatically through North Texas Giving Day, donations through the band’s website, and in person donations at performances.
During Tommy Guilbert’s era, the band grew to over seventy members. Musicianship and performance quality improved greatly. By the end of the 2014 season, the Band was performing eleven events every year.
After his passing, the Board appointed Tommy Guilbert Musical Director Emeritus Ad Infinitum.
In 2015, Joe Frank, Jr. became the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Plano Community Band.
The Band continues the performance traditions established under Tommy Guilbert and past Conductors.
In 2015, the Band invited Lew Buckley, retired conductor of the US Coast Guard Band, to be our guest and clinician on his composition “Music for Life” written in memory of Tommy Guilbert. The Band premiered Lew’s composition at the fall concert in the Eisemann Center.
In 2016, the Band began its “Music for Life” educational outreach program. The Band partners with two Plano Independent School District title 1 middle schools each year and performs a clinic and side-by-side concert with the students, performing the music the middle school band will play at UIL contest in the spring.
The Band joined efforts with other Plano arts groups to promote Historic Downtown Plano and Downtown Plano as an Arts District.
The Band continues to innovate and entertain audience members by accompanying music with slide shows, asking audience members to vote on which piece the band should play, and providing unique entertainment at its concerts. This includes balloon artists, face painters, henna tattoo artists, barbershop quartets, and photos of historic Plano. Guest artists include the Custer Road United Methodist Church choir and Stockton Helbing.
Corporate and individual donations continue to grow. The Band now has a foundation sponsoring the “Music for Life” educational outreach program.
The Band currently hovers around seventy members, and is working to attract more young musicians as they graduate from school.
Under Joe’s baton, the band performs thirteen events every year:
- Five Summer Series Concerts in Haggard Park
- Two concerts in the Eisemann Center
- Two events at the Plano Senior Center
- Dickens in Downtown Plano Christmas Tree Lighting in Haggard Park
- John Paul II High School graduation
- Two Music for Life educational outreach clinic and concerts
In 2017 the band had the privilege of performing the world premiere of Ballad, Blues and Boogie by Plano composer David Lovrien, commissioned in memory of Tommy Guilbert. Lovrien wrote the piece for jazz trio and band, with the Stockton Helbing Trio as the featured group. The band premiered the piece at the Eisemann Center in April 2017, and performed it again at the Texas Bandmasters Association convention that July. As a special treat, trumpet legend Wayne Bergeron sat in with the band at TBA and treated the audience with a solo and some amazing high notes!