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From the Podium

Welcome to another FREE Sunday concert by the Plano Community Band.  This is not just any Sunday concert – today we present a celebration of the outstanding Plano Independent School District’s Fine Arts programs, and we are performing for the first time in the beautiful new Robinson Fine Arts Center.

Plano students will be featured pre-concert, during intermission, and post-concert in the lobby.  A brass and woodwind chamber ensemble from Plano East Senior High, the Pan Cats percussion ensemble from Plano Senior High, and the Jazz ensemble from Plano West Senior High will be performing for you during the concert breaks. We hope you will stroll the lobby during these brief sessions and listen to these talented high school musicians from Plano schools.

During our concert we will be featuring two tremendously talented former PISD graduates.  Please take a moment to read the bios of our two accomplished guest soloists, Cameron Abtahi, private trumpet instructor in the Dallas area, and Todd Cope, principal clarinet for the Montreal Symphony.  You can count on dynamic music and virtuoso playing.  Also look for two special guests who will be contributing to our finale with Todd Cope.  Drum set player extraordinaire Stockton Helbing and gifted pianist Marilyn Woodruff will help the PBC provide accompaniment to Artie Shaw’s Clarinet Concerto.

As for the Plano Community Band’s portion of the program, we will present two dynamic overtures: Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a timeless orchestral classic, and Blue Lake Overture, by Texas’ own John Barnes Chance, a special part of wind band repertoire. 

Associate Conductor Jim Carter will conduct an audience favorite, Minor Alterations, which brings an unusual “twist” to familiar holiday carols.  We are also very excited to present the premier of Collage von Karolju.  This is a piece commissioned by the PCB from tenor saxophonist and music arranger and composer Buddy Mattei.  The work is a collection of holiday “sounding” carols that are new, fresh, and filled with energetic, beautiful and heat warming melodies. 

I sincerely appreciate the diligent effort by our band board, my associate conductor Jim Carter, and all the members of the Plano Community band in making this concert a reality.  Also I want to thank the band directors and students of the three senior high schools for their wonderful contributions to our Sunday event.  We would not have been able to perform in beautiful Robinson Fine Arts Center without assistance from Jeremy Kondrat, the staff at the Robinson and the Fine Arts and PISD administration.  Lastly, I want to express my deep gratitude to James Hannah who did so much planning and facilitating for this concert.

Welcome to the Robinson, and I sincerely hope you enjoy Plano Prodigies!

Program Notes

Festive Overture

In November 1954, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre sent an urgent appeal to Dmitri Shostakovich. A concert marking the anniversary of the Russian Revolution was days away, and the theater needed a celebratory piece to open it. Could he create one quickly? Almost overnight, Shostakovich tossed off his Festive Overture, perhaps the most exuberant work he ever composed.

The rousing piece tested Shostakovich again in 1962. After seeing Igor Stravinsky conduct, Shostakovich told his elder colleague that the podium tempted him, but “I don’t know how to not be afraid.” Nevertheless, when Shostakovich received an offer to conduct his overture and Cello Concerto a few months later, he agreed. Before the first rehearsal, his nerves were so frayed that he persuaded cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the concert’s soloist, to help him polish off a half-liter of vodka. Even though the concert went over well, Shostakovich never conducted again.


There is little doubt of the impact of John Williams’ music on the entertainment world. His film music, including a more than twenty-year collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, has been an integral part of some of the film industry’s finest achievements. His unique talent and respected artistry have made these film scores a significant and vital part of our American culture. Spielberg and Williams came together in 2021 for the director’s highly anticipated biopic of Abraham Lincoln starring Daniel Day Lewis in the title role. For his original score to Lincoln, Williams drew on American musical influences from the Civil War era, combining them with his own distinctive style to bring to life the atmosphere of both the turbulent times surrounding the war and the warmth and humanity of the sixteenth president. This arrangement by Jay Bocook includes “The People’s House,” “The American Process,” and “With Malice Toward None,” which is named after the immortal words from Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

Collage von Karolju

Karolju is a suite of original Christmas carols originally composed for choir and orchestra by American composer Christopher Rouse. The work was commissioned in 1989 by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with support from the philanthropist Randolph Rothschild and the Barlow Endowment. It was completed in November 1990 and first performed on November 7, 1991 by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by David Zinman.

After hearing the choral arrangement, Joe Frank, Jr. thought it would be a great piece for a wind band, but who could take on the daunting task of arranging such a complex and lengthy piece? Joe asked the PCB if they would commission the piece to be arranged by Buddy Mattei, the PCB’s own tenor saxophone player.  Buddy has been called upon many times to arrange and compose various pieces for the band.  Buddy is a graduate of the University of North Texas School of Music and has continued to teach and write and perform as a highly respected professional musician. He enjoyed a very successful twenty-one year career as a public school band director in Princeton (TX) and Allen (TX). Buddy and wife Marilyn (clarinet and music instructor then principal in Princeton ISD) had such a great impact on the music programs and the school district that in 2023 Mattei Middle School opened in the Princeton ISD. (Fun fact, PCB musicians Samantha Humphreys (flute) and Jason Tucker (French horn) are the band directors at Mattei Middle School.)

Slavische Fantasie

Carl Höhne was a German composer and cornet soloist. In addition to his solo works for brass, Höhne wrote a treatise on cornet performance. Slavische Fantasie (Slavonic Fantasy), a popular showpiece for trumpet/cornet, was written in 1899 for the cornet virtuoso Franz Werner. The work alternates between vocal lyricism and highly demanding technical passages for the soloist. Höhne is a bit of a “one-hit wonder,” as very little else is known about him as a musician and composer.

Blue Lake Overture

John Barnes Chance (1932-1972) was born in Texas, where he played percussion in high school. His early interest in music led him to the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, studying composition with Clifton Williams. The early part of his career saw him playing timpani with the Austin Symphony, and later playing percussion with the Fourth and Eighth U.S. Army Bands during the Korean War. Upon his discharge, he received a grant from the Ford Foundation’s Young Composers Project, leading to his placement as resident composer in the Greensboro, North Carolina public schools. Blue Lake Overture was the first commission by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp established in 1966 and located in West Michigan. The premiere performance was given in early 1971 by the Western Michigan University Wind Ensemble with the composer conducting.

Concertino for Clarinet

Concertino, Op. 26, by Weber is one of the great works of the clarinetist’s repertoire. First performed on April 5, 1811, the concert was such a success that the composer was commissioned to write two more selections for the clarinet. These fine works brought even greater fame to Weber, already a highly respected composer, and established the clarinet as a leading instrument for the expression of Romantic music. The concertino unfolds in one movement in a theme and variations form. The work opens with a slow introduction and proceeds to a leisurely theme followed by several contrasting variations.

Minor Alterations

Yes, Halloween was last month, but this medley of favorite Christmas tunes sounds like it is still Halloween. Minor Alterations, (Christmas Through the Looking Glass) transposes each tune from major to minor keys, then disguised, layered and morphed even more, from the ominous “Deck the Halls” at the start to the final, frenzied “Nutcracker Suite” finale, each tune is lovingly twisted into something new and inventive.

A 1981 graduate of Plano Senior High, composer (and PCB favorite) David Lovrien has been a member of the Dallas Winds saxophone section since 1991 and also serves as the group’s staff arranger and webmaster. He has performed on 14 Dallas Winds recordings, including 3 Grammy-nominated CDs. David is a founding member of the Texas Saxophone Quartet, the first saxophone ensemble to win the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in 1986. He can also be heard performing locally with “The Singapore Slingers” (1920’s retro-jazz orchestra) and “5 Second Rule” (Irish folk band).

Concerto for Clarinet

Artie Shaw was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, actor and author of both fiction and non-fiction.  Widely regarded as “one of jazz’s finest clarinetists,” Shaw led one of the most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. The Concerto for Clarinet was composed for clarinet and jazz orchestra.  Before his enlisted service in World War II, Shaw was tasked with providing music for the movie Second Chance featuring Fred Astaire. The film was a flop, but Shaw used one of his works from the soundtrack, “The Swing Concerto,” and reworked it into his “Concerto for Clarinet.”  The piece ends with a legendary altissimo C.

The PCB is honored and privileged to have Stockton Helbing join us on drums for this classic jazz number. As a composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, educator, music director, author, and entrepreneur, Stockton is always busy. He has released eight albums to date and two books, which are included in the percussion curriculum at the University of North Texas. Since 2016, Stockton has directed a jazz outreach program called the Helbing Jazz Initiative, and Stockton and his sextet have provided jazz masterclasses for thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Stockton currently teaches drum set at the University of North Texas as an adjunct professor of music.

Stockton has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists including Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Arturo Sandoval, the Maniacal 4, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Holiday, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Wayne Bergeron, and many more.

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.

Todd Cope - Guest Artist

Todd Cope has been the Principal Clarinet of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 2013. Prior to his appointment, he served as Second and E-flat clarinet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra from 2011 to 2013 and was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach from 2007 to 2010. Todd has also performed with the Sun Valley and Gran Teton Festival Orchestra, Florida Grand Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, and Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, among others. As a member of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, he has toured extensively through Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States. He has been featured as a concerto soloist with the OSM and can be heard on the “Soloists of the OSM” CD series released by Analekta Records featuring chamber works by Beethoven, Strauss, and Schubert. In addition to performing, Todd is an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. He has given masterclasses in North America and Europe, and is a faculty member at the Domaine Forget International Summer Academy. Todd completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as a student of Richie Hawley and earned a Professional Studies Certificate from the Colburn Conservatory of Music as a student of Yehuda Gilad. Other teachers include Greg Raden, Carmine Campione, and Deborah Fabian. Todd graduated from Plano West Senior High School in 2003. Todd is a performing artist and clinician for Buffet Crampon clarinets and Vandoren USA reeds and mouthpieces. 

Todd’s performance today is sponsored by Buffet Crampon.

Cameron Abtahi - Guest Artist

Cameron Abtahi is a professional trumpet player from Plano, Texas. He holds a Bachelor’s in Trumpet Performance from Baylor University and a Master’s in Trumpet Performance, with Academic Honors, from the New England Conservatory of Music. Cameron has performed solo and orchestral repertoire in venues across the United States and has appeared frequently in world premiere recordings and events, including most recently serving as principal trumpet for Iphigenia, a new opera written by jazz legend Wayne Shorter and featured in the New York Times. In Boston, Cameron studied with Ben Wright, and worked closely with members of the Boston Symphony. He spent time freelancing in the Boston area, served as principal trumpet of the conservatory orchestra, and was featured as a soloist in their Fall 2020 program. During his time at Baylor, he studied with Wiff Rudd, performed with the Waco Symphony, and appeared three times in the National Trumpet Competition Semi-Finals, winning 1st place in 2015. Cameron graduated from Plano West Senior High School in 2013. During high school, he attended Texas All-State three times, earning 1st place his senior year. He was a member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra for two years and served as principal trumpet of the Idyllwild Summer Festival Orchestra for three years. Cameron currently freelances in the DFW area and keeps a teaching studio in Frisco. Students of his have successfully auditioned for Texas All-State and received scholarships to pursue music at the university level.

Stockton Helbing is not very good at sitting still. When not drumming he is being a composer, arranger, producer, band leader, educator, music director, author, and entrepreneur.

Stockton maintains a busy schedule of performing, recording, and teaching around North America. He is a frequent guest artist at colleges and high schools due to his hefty resume of past performances. In recent years, Stockton has been heard across the United States playing drums for American music icon and trumpet player extraordinaire Doc Severinsen.

Stockton has released six albums to date: Lodestar (2005), For Nothing is Secret (2007), Battlestations & Escape Plans (2010), Crazy Aquarius (2012), Handprints (2014), and, his most recent Patina (2015). Each album showcases not only Stockton’s drumming abilities, but his composing, arranging, and producing skills as well. Stockton also released his first educational text in 2015, Big Band Drum Set Sight Reading Etudes Volume 1, which helps drummers learn how to improvise and succeed in a big band setting.

Stockton has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists including Maynard Ferguson, the Maniacal 4, Erika Badu, David Braid, Steve Wiest, Jennifer Holiday, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Denis DiBlasio, The Cincinnati Pops, Chip McNeill, Darden Purcell, Clay Jenkins, Phil Woods, Wayne Bergeron, Randy Brecker, The Imperial Brass, Mary Wilson, Paul Tynan, Ernie Watts and many more.

Stockton currently teaches drum set at the University of North Texas as an adjunct professor of music. In the past, Stockton held positions as Jazz Artist in Residence at Oklahoma State University (2012-2015) and Artist in Residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2011-2013) and he has appeared as guest artist at schools including the University of North Texas, San Jose State University, the University of Illinois, George Mason University, the University of South Carolina, and St. Francis Xavier University.

Since 2007, Stockton has owned and operated Armored Records, an independent Jazz record label that focuses on releases by up and coming Jazz artists. To date, Armored Records has released over fifty albums from artists coast to coast.

Stockton lives in Dallas, TX, with his wife Denise, John their son, Liliana their daughter, Jack the dog, and Aquarius the turtle.


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!


Click here to see our upcoming concert schedule. We look forward to seeing you again!