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Program Notes

March from Second Suite for Military Band in F Major

Gustov Holst (1874-1934) was an Englishman who spent much of his creative life writing music based on English folk songs. Holst was a trombonist, thus his interest in wind bands, but he also wrote many pieces for orchestra (including his most famous The Planets), eight operas, and many choral works. Each of the movements in the Second Suite are based on English folk songs. The “March” has four distinct melodies. It opens with a Morris Dance tune, “Glorishears” a broad and lyrical folk song, which leads to a second Morris Dance tune, “Blue Eyed Stranger.” He then shifts to “Swansea Town,” featuring the euphonium, followed by “Claudy Banks,” an Irish folk song which has a lilting, swinging feeling derived from its compound duple meter. Holst composed the Second Suite in 1911, but he was so preoccupied (and later fatigued) by the details of supervising a performance by Morley College students of Purcell’s Fairy Queen (the first since the 17th century) that he forgot about the work until asked to compose another suite for military band in 1921. Featured today on solo euphonium is Aaron Hughes.

Lux Aurumque ("Light and Gold")

Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) is an American composer, conductor, and lecturer, most widely known for his choral works. Whitacre holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada and a master’s degree from the Julliard School where he studied with John Corigliano and David Diamond. At the age of 23 he completed his first piece for wind orchestra, “Ghost Train,” and later the popular wind piece “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.”

Commissioned by the Texas Music Educators Association for their 2005 All-State Band, “Lux Aurumque” is an adaptation of one of Whitacre’s most popular choral works. For his choral setting, Whitacre had the original poem by Edward Esch (b. 1970) translated into Latin. Here is Esch’s original poem:


            warm and heavy as pure gold

            and the angels sing softly

            to the new-born baby.

When Eric Whitacre was interviewed about this piece of music he so eloquently spoke of this piece as a “breathing exercise” (just ask our clarinet section), and that is immediately noticeable from bar one as the music crescendos and diminuendos or “expands and contracts” like one’s breath in a state of meditation.

Sketches on Tudor Psalm

Fisher Tull (1934-1994) was an American composer, arranger, educator, administrator, and trumpeter. After earning three degrees from the University of North Texas, he went on to teach at Sam Houston State University where he served as chairman of the music department.

As a composer he received numerous commissions including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Ballet, Houston Music Guild, International Trumpet Guild, the U.S. Army Band, and the U. S. Air Force Band. Throughout his career he composed over 80 works for orchestra, band, chorus, and various chamber ensembles.

Composed in 1971, “Sketches on a Tudor Psalm” is based on Thomas Tallis’ sixteenth-century setting of the Second Psalm. Originally published in a collection of vernacular psalm settings, Tallis’ work consisted of eight psalm settings and one ordinal for the psalter. Though Tallis’ setting is a paraphrase of the second Psalm, it maintains the psalmist’s message, which is to embrace God and be blessed, or defy Him and be damned. Despite the existence of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ well-known Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, a work based on the same source material, Fisher Tull was drawn to the famous Tallis melody. Using the preexisting uneven metrical structure, Tull deconstructed the original tenor melody (first stated in its original form by the alto saxophone) into six distinct segments before utilizing them in this set of variations, which concludes with a glorious return of the original psalm melody.

Washington Grays

Claudio Grafulla (1812-1880) was born on a small island off the coast of Spain, emigrating to the United States in 1840 to become a musician in New York City. Horn was his primary instrument, but he also excelled at arranging and composing.

“Washington Grays” was composed for the 8th Regiment, New York National Guard and is considered one of the finest American contributions to military band literature. The 8th New York was created in May 1784 when a company of militia artillery was organized in New York City by Capt. Jacob Sebring. After marching in George Washington’s inaugural parade on April 30, 1789, and known for their gray uniforms, the company adopted the name “Washington Grays.”

There are elements of Italian and German marches in this march. The running sixteenth notes and responding bass voices create a wonderful counterpoint. Frederick Fennell wrote of this march, “masterfully simple, effectively contrasting, its incessant flow of musical ideas is overwhelmingly convincing. It is a march of great passion. A real indoor rouser from 1861.”

Suite of Old American Dances

Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981) is best known for his work as an arranger and orchestrator of Broadway shows such as Oklahoma!, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Camelot, and My Fair Lady and television and motion pictures, but he was a prolific composer in his own right, writing concerti, symphonies, art songs, chamber music, operas, incidental music for stage plays, and music for concert band. In 1948, after hearing the Goldman Band perform, he was inspired to write Suite of Old American Dances, which he originally titled “Electric Park” after an amusement park in Kansas City which he visited as a child.

Movement one, “Cakewalk,” is based on a dance first demonstrated at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was highly competitive and only the most agile and accomplished dancers would compete. The winners would receive a huge cake, and thereafter the dance was known as the “cakewalk.”

Movement two, “Schottische,” isn’t Scottish at all, as the name might suggest, but is a polka-like dance originating in Bohemia, the western half of the current Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest dance forms and shares a four-beat pattern with the polka, but on the fourth beat of each pattern a polka dancer will rest, while schottische dancers perform a hop.

Movement five, “Rag,” involves a syncopated style of music originating in the 1890s. The syncopation in the music was first referred to as “ragged time,” then the form itself began to be called “ragtime,” and finally, “rag” and was made popular by composers such as Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb.

Carnival from La Fiesta Mexicana

American composer and conductor H. Owen Reed (1910-2014), a professor at Michigan State University, spent five months in Mexico over the winter of 1948-49. After several weeks in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, with side trips to Taxco and Acapulco, he spent a couple of months in Chapala. This trip, funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, was the inspiration for his most famous composition, La Fiesta Mexicana: a Mexican Folk Song Symphony for Band. The work was premiered by the U.S. Marine Band in 1949. The first major-label commercial recording, released in 1954, “burst on the classical record scene and became an overnight sensation. Music lovers were dazzled by the color and inventiveness of the score.” (Philip Nones, 2013. “H. Owen Reed at 103:  The Dean of American Composers Celebrates a Birthday.” Blog post, 19 June 2013.)

According to the composer, while in Chapala, “the two-against-three rhythm of the two bells used throughout La Fiesta Mexicana was a standard cliché of the young musicians who seemed to have little respect for my early morning sleep.” The third movement, “Carnival,” makes use of a mariachi rendition of “El Son de la Negra.”  The score includes the following notes from Reed on “Carnival”:

Mexico is at its best on the days of the fiesta, a day on which passion governs the love, hate and joy of the Mestizo and the Indio. There is entertainment for both young and old-–the itinerant circus (first part of the movement), the market, the bull fight, the town band, and always the cantinas with their band of mariachis-–on the day of days: fiesta

Meet the Artists

Plano Community Band

The Plano Community Band is a volunteer organization made up of approximately 70 musicians from all walks of life who share a passion for music. The band performs two Spring concerts and a Fall concert each year at the beautiful Eisemann Center in Richardson, but is best known for its Summer concerts at Haggard Park, in old downtown Plano. The Summer Series begins the first Monday in June, and performances at the park continue every other Monday evening for a total of five concerts. The band has themes for each concert including kids’ night, big band and a patriotic concert.

The band is a nonprofit organization sponsored in part by the Plano Cultural Arts Commission. The band is also supported by John Paul II High School, member dues and from generous donors in the community. There is never an admission charged for any of the band’s public performances.

The Plano Community Band is a proud member of the Association of Concert Bands, an international organization dedicated to the advancement of adult community bands. The band has performed at several of their national conventions as well as hosted the conventions in 1992 and 2010, and recently performed at the 2022 convention in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The PCB will be hosting the 2024 Regional Convention at Richardson High School in June 2024.

Joe Frank, Jr. - Artistic Director

Plano Community Band’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, is a retired music educator and band director with over 35 years of experience working with student and adult musicians in Texas and Georgia. He was born in Harlingen in the Rio Grande Valley and spent most of his adult years in Richardson and Sherman, Texas. Joe is a third-generation band director. His father, Joe Frank, Sr., was a well-known Texas band director and orchestra director and charter member of the Phi Beta Mu Band Director Hall of Fame. Joe taught for 17 years in the Richardson ISD where mentors such as Joe Frank, Sr.; Richard Floyd; Tommy Guilbert; Robert Floyd and Howard Dunn helped form his concepts of teaching students and interpreting, rehearsing and performing wind band literature. In 1990, Joe became Director of Bands for the Sherman ISD and helped lead the Sherman Bands to 14 years of successful performances, competitions and statewide recognition. While living in Athens, Georgia, Joe became director of the Classic City Band and developed a love for working and making music with adults. Joe currently lives in Denison, Texas, with his wife, Becky. He is a frequent clinic/consultant and adjudicator for middle school and high school bands. His daughter, Jessica, is an  accountant and volunteer youth leader. She currently plays clarinet in the PCB. His son, Jeff, is a pediatric neurologist in Oregon. Joe enjoys sailing, golf, snow skiing, and traveling with Becky.

Jim Carter - Associate Conductor, Business Manager & Event Coordinator

Plano Community Band’s Associate Conductor, Business Manager, and Event Coordinator, was born in Texas City, Texas, and has made Plano his home since 1969, going through the Plano schools and the band program at Plano Senior High. During his high school days, Jim was privileged to have played with Doc Severinsen and Alan Vizzutti, and his first love always seemed to be jazz. After graduation, he was selected to play with the National Bandmasters Association Jazz Band, performing with Marvin Stamm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Jim attended Sam Houston State University on a music scholarship, receiving his degree in Music Education in 1991. While at Sam Houston, Jim studied under Dr. Fisher Tull, Dr. Gary Sousa and Dr. Rod Cannon. Jim also headed up the recording and archiving of concert performances and was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi. After teaching a couple of years, Jim returned to Plano and began working in the communications field. He currently holds the position of Director of A/V and Computer Services for the 4,500-member Custer Road United Methodist Church. To keep music in his life, Jim joined the Plano Community Band in 1993 as the baritone saxophone player. Jim also plays with many Dallas-area jazz and big bands. He became the Band’s associate conductor in 1995.


The Plano Community Band sincerely thanks our 2023-2024 Season Donors. Your contributions allow us to continue to perform free concerts for North Texas! To become a donor, click here.

The Plano Community Band is funded in part by the City of Plano. 

The Band participates in rewards programs with Kroger, GoodShop, and Tom Thumb. Click here for more information!


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