For May, meet Linda Lahti, a piccolist in the Naperville Municipal Band since 1980.
In what Naperville subdivision or other city is your home? I have lived in Naperville since 1982; I currently live in Indian Hill.
Where did you attend high school? I graduated from Maine East High School in Park Ridge.
Who inspired you to play an instrument? I credit my love of band music to the fabulous department there (Maine East). O.D. Premo was my band director and he influenced many of us to include instrumental music in our lives no matter what profession we chose. He had a full size van. We had sectional rehearsals (all flutes, all clarinets, etc.) at least once per week at 6:45AM. No ride to school that early? No problem – he would pick us up and expected us to be ready to go. I was the first one in the van at 6:05!
What Instrument (s) do you play? Piccolo
How old when you started taking music lessons? I began playing piano at age four and played through 8th grade. During COVID, I’ve gone back to taking lessons again and it has been a joy. I started flute in fourth grade. Percussion was my first choice, but my mother, a violinist, would have no part of that. She wanted me to play violin. We compromised on flute.
How long have you played with the NMB? I joined the NMB in the spring of 1980. I remember calling Ron Keller and asking if there was room for another flute. We had a long conversation about not only playing concerts but also parades. So my first outing was the Memorial Day Parade. Back then we marched to four or five cemeteries and monuments before we marched the parade. I chose bad shoes. Blisters to remember!
What’s your favorite type of music / song / theme for NMB concerts? I really don’t have a favorite genre of music for concerts. I enjoy it all. My favorite marches include the Pride of the Illini and the Purple Pageant by Karl King – he was the master of march melodies and there are fun parts to play! And the trio to the Entry of the Gladiators by Fucik is the most hauntingly beautiful march melody ever. I lobby constantly for an old ’60s medley of Broadway tunes called Broadway Curtain Time arranged by Krance. Hope you will soon hear it in Central Park!
What are your favorites on your IPhone? 500 hours of music including Brahms, Berlioz, Chopin nocturnes, Mozart flute concertos, Eric Clapton, Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Phantom of the Opera and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. I don’t have a favorite, although my phone tells me Phantom and Backrow Politics are in the running for the top ten!
When not playing music, what are your other favorite past times? I taught math and computer science at York High School for many years and I still coach the Math Team there. I so enjoy being with high school students – they are our wonderful future.
Provide 50 words or less about the importance of music in your life. Music has brought me a multitude of friendships. It brought me 35-plus years of a wonderful marriage to Jerry. (Jerry Lahti joined the band in 1973 and played the cornet.)
Add any brief note that might inspire others. Ultimately music is personal to each of us – it is truly a joy I cannot live without. I hope I pass a bit of that along to all of you on Thursday nights in Central Park. I can’t wait!
Editor’s Note, May 23, 2021 / At this time, it appears the Naperville Municipal Band will return to Central Park for its Thursday evening summer series beginning June 10 with “Here’s that Band Again.” Concerts begin at 7:30PM. Local safety protocols will be in place to follow as they advance. As Conductor Ron Keller reminds us, “There may be some changes, but music is for life.” Now let the music begin again when the stage door goes up!