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Monday, April 22, 2024

Naperville Municipal Band set to wrap up summer season in Central Park


Above / Enjoy music when the big stage door goes up on the Naperville Community Concert Center in Central Park, located south of 104 N. Benton Avenue, in downtown Naperville. Park benches are ready. Still, some band fans bring their own lawn chairs to sit up close.

The final two summer concerts hosted by the Naperville Municipal Band in Central Park welcome the community to attend at 7:30PM Thursday, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10. 

During the summer concert season, the NMB Big Band typically shares the stage with another big band in August.

First up on Aug. 3, the NMB Big Band, under the leadership of Tracy Oliver, will perform with another area guest big band, British Buddy Alumni Big Band.

“The British Buddy Alumni Big Band, led by Bill Ryan, opens the show with the first three tunes, then the two big bands will alternate sets of numbers until the finale, ‘C Jam Blues’,” explained Oliver.

NMB Big Band members are Rod Russeau, David Oliver, Marty Rench, Alex Russeau, Ed Zajda, Bob Binder, Kelsey Fletcher-Broucek, Stevan Vasich, Chuck Smith, John Barbush, Mike Fenton, Caitlin Kankovsky, Art Foley, Dave Fritz, Ron Spaeth and Scott Oliver. Their vocalist is Summer Kwai.

The weekly Bake Sale will be sponsored by Safe Haven Dog Rescue.

Put on your dancin’ shoes and be ready to swing with the upbeat sounds of two great big bands as the 2023 summer concert season begins to wrap up.

Big Band program / Songs from George Gershwin to Cole Porter

Set One/British Buddy Alumni Big Band: Way Out Basie, comp./arr. Ernie Wilkins; The Man I Love  (vocal), comp: Gershwin/arranger: Dave Wolpe; Emily, comp: Johnny Mandel/ Johnny Mercer  arranger: Bill Rogers

Set Two/NMB Big Band: Blues for Mr. P, comp./arr. Jim Martin; Skylark, (vocal) arr. Jerry Nowak; When You’re Smiling (vocal) M. Buble

Set Three/British Buddy Alumni Big Band: One O’clock Jump, Basie transcription: Ken White; Closely Dancing, Arturo Sandoval  arranger: Ed Calle; Easy to Love (vocal) Cole Porter/arranger: Billy May

Set Four/NMB Big Band: Deed I Do, (vocal) arr. Rick Stitzel; South 21st Shuffle, Steve Weist arr. Bob Lowden; The Gospel Truth, Craig Fraedrich

Set Five/British Buddy Alumni Big Band: Jackson Square, Composer Arranger: Denis  DeBlasio; Here’s to Life, (vocal) Composer: Artie Butler lyrics: Phyllis Molinary arr: Mark Taylor; Love for Sale, Cole Porter/arranger: Pete Meyers

Set Six/NMB Big Band: Count Me In, arr. Bill Byers; I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me (vocal)  arr. Marion Evans; One for Woody, comp./arr. Dominic Spera

Finale – C Jam Blues    Combined NMB Big Band and British Buddy Alumni Big Band

‘Thanks for the Memories’ takes on different tune in 2023

On Aug. 10, the season wraps up with its “Prelude to Fall and Thanks for the Memories.”

This year’s gratitude for all the memories, marches and other melodies will take on new meaning, noting that this performance is Conductor Ron Keller’s final concert as Conductor/Music Director of the Naperville Municipal Band, a stellar role that he’s held since 1966. 

The concert will include marches composed by Keller, including the “Spirit of the Jaycees.”  And Keller likely will remind the audience that the Naperville Jaycees gave the biggest single donation, $40,000, to help build a new concert center 20 years ago.

Ron Keller has arranged to perform a tuba ensemble with the Heuer family during the final concert of the 2023 summer season. (PN Photo)

In addition, “Tubaman” Keller has organized a tuba ensemble to perform “Solo Pomposo” aka “Tuba Solo” with members of the Heuer family. After this concert, a very grateful Keller, known as Naperville’s Music Man, will be designated Director Emeritus.

The Bake Sale will be sponsored by Accelerate Climate Solutions.

Strike up fond memories of the Naperville Municipal Band

The Naperville Municipal Band has been entertaining Naperville and the surrounding suburbs in Central Park for more than 150 years. The band has grown from a group of dedicated musicians whose vision brought them together in 1859 to its current 100-member roster. 

Back in 2004, Naperville Municipal Band Conductor Ron Keller sported a replica of the 1886 uniform worn by members of the Naperville Light Guard Band as a way to help tell the band’s long story. During its 164-year history, the City band has been suited in 12 different uniforms as its name has changed five times. In fact, note that the band first was called The Naperville Brass Band in 1859, followed by the Light Guard Band in 1866. Then came the Lounge Factory Band in 1906 and the Naperville City Band in 1917. The name “Naperville Municipal Band” followed in 1932.  (PN File Photo)

“Over the years it has undergone five name changes and raised money for four different band shells, 12 sets of uniforms, benches, music, and guest performers,” noted Steve Lord, earlier this summer.

The Naperville Municipal Band was established in 1859. With the Naperville Community Concert Center, aka “Band Shell,” in Naperville’s Central Park as its home base, the award-winning band has entertained thousands of listeners most summers during its free weekly outdoor concerts.

Central Park is the home of the Naperville Community Concert Center, the building with the huge stage door featuring the Century Walk mural titled “The Great Concerto.” Park benches await audiences. Many band fans bring blankets, collapsible lawn chairs and sit-upons as well as picnics. (PN Photo)

Folks begin arriving about 7PM to mix and mingle

Benches are set. Concert-goers are welcomed to bring blankets and collapsible lawn chairs to watch from other locations throughout Central Park.

Concert themes are subject to change without notice.

Central Park is located in the heart of downtown at 104 E. Benton Avenue​. Some folks say Central Park is behind Quigley’s Irish Pub and US Bank. Others say it’s behind the old Nichols Library, now Gia Mia Italian Restaurant.

Thanks for supporting Bake Sales sponsored by nonprofits

During the Naperville Municipal Band Concert on July 13, folks purchased treats during the Bake Sale hosted by Companions Journeying Together. Every week a different nonprofit has an opportunity to raise funds. (PN Photo, July 13, 2023)

Every week a different nonprofit organization provides treats for a Bake Sale in the Gazebo. Earlier this year, groups were invited to apply to be included in a lottery for one of the 10 weeks of the summer concert season. Watch for a notice for the 2024 lottery on the NMB website in January.

Also remember to bring pocket change in support of the weekly Bake Sale.

Another thought… Picnic in Central Park

Many band fans and their families create a special evening in downtown Naperville on Thursday evenings. Folks head out a little early and enjoy dinner at one of downtown’s many eateries. Others place a to-go order for a picnic in Central Park.

Click here for directory listing of downtown eateries.

For more info about the Naperville Municipal Band, visit www.napervilleband.org.

Stop by Naperville Bank & Trust to see history of NMB under glass

A new exhibit inside Naperville Bank & Trust, Washington at Benton, highlights the musical career of Naperville Municipal Band Conductor Ron Keller. Stop by the bank during business hours to note “Marches, Melodies & Music,” a display of artifacts arranged by local historian Bryan Ogg that showcases Keller’s many family connections to the City band that dates back to 1859. The exhibit will be up through September 2023.

Touched by the tribute, Naperville native Ron Keller, aka Tubaman, is pictured with a printed program that aims to guide Naperville Bank & Trust visitors through the exhibit created by local historian Bryan Ogg. Three display cases feature music, instruments, vintage photos and other keepsakes that date back to 1859, all belonging to Naperville’s Music Man. (PN Photo)

More than a few times in recent weeks, the community has been enlightened regarding longtime Conductor Ron Keller’s plans to step over to become Director Emeritus of the Naperville Municipal Band at the end of this summer concert season in Central Park.

Save the date! Ron’s Retirement Reception planned Sun., Aug. 27

Kindly note a public open house welcomes the community to share memories with Ron Keller and the NMB from 2:30 to 5:30PM Sun., Aug. 27, at the Judd Kendall VFW Post, located at 908 W. Jackson Avenue. Light refreshments will be served. No gifts, please. Simply bring a card or hand-written memory that will help Naperville’s Music Man continue to tell his story. Thank you.


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