Did you know? According to a report in Southern Living Magazine, “Christmas in July” started on July 24 and July 25 in 1933 at Keystone Camp, a girls’ camp in Brevard, NC. Back then it was a way to think “cool” in the sizzle of summer heat and not a marketing theme for summer sales.
The first “Christmas in July” Naperville Municipal Band Concert in Central Park, as portrayed in “The Great Concerto” mural, was imagined by Conductor Elmer Koerner to be performed in 1955, complete with snow balls that had been kept frozen in Frank Keller’s freezer since January that year.
And ever since, Conductor Ron Keller has led a “Christmas in July” concert of holiday favorites when July 25 falls on a Thursday. The next time will be July 25, 2024.
For 2022, the remaining Naperville Municipal Band summer Thursday evening concerts will be presented on July 21, July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.
The theme for tonight, July 21, features “Ron’s Favorites.” The program will include the “Poet and Peasant Overture,’ “In the (Glenn) Miller Mood,” “The Good Old West,” “Emblem of Unity” and “Invincible Eagle” by John Philip Sousa.
“Emblem of Unity,” a lively march by J.J. Richards, is a favorite of Keller’s that takes him back to the days when he played as a sophomore in high school for Conductor Elmer Koerner. Keller recalls the time when a guest conductor singled him out to play a B-flat on his tuba, a note he played perfectly that had “Mr. Koerner beaming like a Christmas tree.”
Keller said Assistant Conductor Emily Binder also will take the baton to conduct two pieces among his favorites tonight, including a medley from the “Sound of Music.”
Next week, Thurs., July 28, the theme will be “Sousa and other Great Band Composers.” Soloist Cathy Lord will perform “Blue Moon” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.”
On Thurs., Aug. 4, the program will feature “Sounds from Central Park.” The final concert of the summer series will present the Naperville Municipal Band BIG BAND under the leadership of Conductor Tracy Oliver.
Thanks for supporting the arts in Central Park and beyond
Before any concert experience in Central Park, stand or sit in front of the Naperville Community Concert Center and study “The Great Concerto,” a Century Walk mural that graces the enormous stage door on the concert center. From top to bottom, left to right, images, including folks stepping lively to the tunes of Naperville’s old barn dances, depict how the Naperville Brass Band of musicians has evolved and entertained since 1859.
When plans were in progress for the Naperville Community Concert Center stage door mural by artist Bart Gunderson, many band fans supported the faces depicted in the crowd behind emcee Ann Good Lord at the microphone. Ann first started with the band as a high school musician in 1945. Today she can boast she’s shared her wit and wisdom as emcee for more than 64 years! And for 2022, she’s shared the stage and some of the announcing with her son, Steve Lord.
The faces, including four former Naperville Mayors, reflect many different walks of life from which the band draws its audiences during seasonal concerts indoors and outdoors.
Elmer Koerner, conductor of the Municipal Band from 1930 to 1965, stands at the center, with a baton in his left hand. As a bit of trivia, Keller noted that band leaders correctly conduct with the baton in their right hand, a proper position he’d pointed out to Gunderson before the mural was finished.
“Bart didn’t think anyone would notice,” Keller said. “I can’t tell you how many people have told me the baton’s in the wrong hand!”
Several of the band’s former performing venues are represented, including the Central Park gazebo, a re-creation of which now serves organizations that plan bake sales during summer concerts. (The Naperville Noon Lions Club hosts the bake sale tonight, followed next week by Safe Haven Dog Rescue.) Images of cannons recall the annual “1812 Overture” performance for Independence Day celebrations. Conductor Keller is depicted twice.
Keller added that the July 28 concert will recognize band members with “awards for longevity.” Then the final two concerts of the summer season will be performed in August. Additional program notes as they become available. All concerts are free of charge with seating on park benches. Many band fans bring their own blankets and collapsible lawn chairs along with picnics to enjoy in the park.
Meanwhile, strike up more information about the NMB at www.napervilleband.org.
And find hundreds of pictures of the band featured in stories and photo galleries on this website.