Our History

The idea of a Capitol Pops Concert Band was hatched in the most unlikely of settings: on a ship cruising the Volga River between Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1996.

The trip was part of a tour that included musicians from the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band Association. Concerts were played along the route, with ample time for relaxing, and pondering. On board were four Sacramento-area musicians who would, the following year, organize and found the Capitol Pops Concert Band: Jerry Lopes, Alice Jacobs, Ray Latimer and his wife, Georgia Latimer.

It was Georgia Latimer who recalled that the Russian adventure was a "busy, fun trip with time off, while cruising, to visit in a small lounge on board. This was the birthplace of a yet-to-be-named pops band."

Georgia recalled that Jim Christensen, whose sterling career included music director and conductor at Walt Disney World, had given her "some popular music for a clarinet choir, and we asked Jerry Lopes if he would rehearse us and conduct the group for a program on board" the cruise ship. Georgia noted: "The mini-concert of "jazzy" music was well received."

She recalled that it was so well received that the four CPCB founders-to-be thought "it would be nice if we could play more popular music in the bands." Or as Jacobs put it: "We really should have a band that only plays good music that the musicians and the audience will enjoy."

Back home in California, the foursome set about making their dream a reality. The Latimer's kicked in some start-up money, Jacobs focused on community outreach and Lopes began acquiring music ... and seeking musicians for the band. With a decades-long background as a music educator and performer, he had plenty of contacts. Over his career, he would direct the American River College Orchestra from 1998 to 2012, and his local music organization memberships included the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra, the Sacramento Municipal Band and Sacramento’s Camellia Symphony Orchestra.

In addition, Georgia Latimer sent out letters to musicians throughout the Sacramento region, letting them know about the new band and its music. Annual dues were set at $30. "We weren’t really raiding other bands,"; Ray Latimer recalled, "We just wanted to let them know what we were up to." Pops was relentlessly emphasized as the band’s core feature. Lest anyone doubt that, the Latimer's printed up business cards with Ray's sentiment: "If you can't hum it on the way home, we don't play it." The band’s first rehearsal was set for Feb. 6, 1997 in the band room of Foothill High School in Sacramento. No one knew quite what to expect. Even the founders were pleasantly surprised when the ranks quickly swelled to more than 50 musicians.

On the afternoon of June 1, 1997, the new pops band zipped through eight compositions in 38 minutes as part of the annual band festival in Carmichael Park. It was the beginning of what is now a 25-year run. During that quarter century, there have been many adjustments, changes and noteworthy accomplishments.

The band’s roster periodically included some of the most well-known names in the Sacramento regions music community. That included trumpet virtuoso John Skinner, head of the popular John Skinner Band, and his talented wife, vocalist Susan Skinner. Harpham, whose talents on the clarinet and saxophone reached back to the Big Band Era, played in the Capitol Pops, as did trombonist Jay Paulus of the locally prominent Jay Paulus’ Society Band.

Some of the Sacramento areas top music educators likewise did double duty playing for the Capitol Pops. That included trombonist Jim Bortolotto from the San Juan Unified School District and clarinetist John Testa, longtime music director at Buljan Middle School in Roseville.

At Lopes’ insistence, the band encouraged involvement of accomplished student musicians, which sometimes found the CPCB roster ranging in age from 17 to 90. Lopes also spearheaded the formation of the Student Scholarship Fund to financially assist students taking lessons from qualified music teachers. Within a week of the 9-11 attacks in 2001, Lopes and the band organized and played a public concert dedicated to the victims and first responders. A sizable crowd attended the solemn and inspiring outdoor performance at Rusch Park in Citrus Heights.

Over 25 years, the band has played at dozens of venues, from the west steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, to public parks, to small stages of schools throughout the Sacramento area. And just this year, the band faced arguably its greatest challenge -- resuming rehearsals and free public concerts after a two-year suspension of activities due to COVID.

Looking ahead, the band hopes to continue to entertain music lovers throughout the Sacramento region, and encourage young musicians to carry on the tradition of playing quality, well-prepared pops music for many years to come.

Our Executive Board

A community band is a musical ensemble composed of amateur and professional musicians who come together to perform music for the enjoyment of themselves and the community. This type of ensemble requires a great deal of collaboration and coordination between its members to be successful. As such, it is impossible for a community band to operate under the performance of just one person.

And like the band, unable to perform without the help of many, the execute board of the band works together to provide leadership, direction, and support to the band as a whole. The executive board is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the band and making decisions that will impact its future. Some specific responsibilities of the executive board include:

If you have a question for the board, please email us at board.members@capitolpops.org.

Director - Susan Hamre

Assistant Director - John Lillie

Board Members

Robin Stuhr

Board Chair - Alto Saxophone

email: robin.stuhr@capitolpops.org

Kreig Moore

Board Vice-Chair - Tuba

email: kreig.moore@capitolpops.org

Arnie Williams

Secretary - Euphonium

email: arnie.williams@capitolpops..org

Mike Tallent

Treasurer - Clarinet

email: mike.tallent@capitolpops.org

Jim Guyette

At Large Board Member - Trumpet

email: jim.guyette@capitolpops.org

Richard Bidlake

At Large Board Member - Clarinet

email: richard.bidlake@capitolpops.org

Jaci Tatro

At Large Board Member - Tuba

email: jaci.tatro@capitolpops.org

John Lillie

At Large Board Member - Percussion

email: john.lillie@capitolpops.org