Ken Kalina ( 1927-2011)
Big Band Founder
Elmer Koerner was born Sept. 7, 1900 in Chenoa, Illinois and died November 25, 1965. He was hired by the Naperville schools to teach math and band. He started in 1928, teaching band in 3rd grade thru high school. He reorganized the Naperville Municipal Band in 1929 and was conductor until his death in 1965. He was responsible for getting the band tax passed in 1931 by the citizens of Naperville to support a community band.
Under his leadership the band prospered and grew to a respected musicial organization until his untimely death. Ron Keller his, student assumed the duties in 1966. It should be noted that since 1928 until now the band has had only two conductors!
Kenneth Robert Kalina was born on November 18, 1927, in Chicago. He grew up in the Cicero-Berwyn area, the only child of John and Bessie Kalina. He was in the 5th grade when his parents purchased an alto saxophone for him. He played in the Cicero Grade School Band and progressed to the Morton High School Band/Orchestra. He excelled in his playing and achieved statewide recognition in solo and ensemble contests. He enlisted in the Navy in 1946 and was ultimately stationed on Saipan, where he joined a dance band and soon became its leader.
Returning home in late 1947, Ken enrolled at the Chicago Musical College under the auspices of the GI Bill. During those college years he was playing professionally 3-4 nights a week and giving private lessons. He earned his BME degree from Chicago Musical College, an MM degree from DePaul University and a CAS from Northern Illinois University. Upon graduation, for ten years he taught/directed bands at several elementary schools. During that time he organized and directed the Broadview Park District Adult Concert Band. In 1963 Ken entered into school administration as an elementary school principal, remaining in that position until retirement in 1988.
Ken organized and directed the Bolingbrook Adult Concert Band, organized the band and music for the Jr. Miss Pageant held in Bolingbrook for many years, directed the American Winds Jazz Bands on six European tours, and was a staff member for over 25 years at the Bemidji State University (Minnesota) Summer Music Band Camps.
Having ownership of an entire library of dance music tunes from the 30's, 40's, and 50'2, Ken decided to organize an band once again. In 1992 the Ken Robert's Orchestra was formed. He recruited members of the NMB to form this group. The KRO played at many retirement facilities in the western suburbs providing entertainment for the residents. For many years, the KRO provided the music for the monthly COD Senior Division Sunday afternoon dances.
One day Ron Keller, director of the NMB, asked Ken what he thought about doing a dance band concert as part of the NMB summer concert season. Thinking perhaps that music might be a bit passé for today's audiences, he pondered a bit. Thinking why not give it a try, he formed the NMB Big Band, again recruiting from the NMB. That first concert in 2003 was a huge success, and the rest is history.
Ken and his wife Bette had a blended family with five children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. After a long battle he succumbed to cancer in 2011.
John Lord was born and raised in Elgin, Illinois. He married Ann Good, whom he met when both were broadcasters for CBS-affiliated Radio/TV station, in 1954. They moved back to Ann’s hometown of Naperville in 1957, where he served 45 years as sound engineer for the Naperville Municipal Band. He was instrumental on how the sound system was installed when the band moved from a wooden platform to a bandshell. Very knowledgeable about the production of sound, John could set up a sound system under any condition, including devising a system that ran off a car battery when the band played remote concerts.
Along with serving as sound engineer, John was also a band board member. He recorded and produced two record albums and one compact disc of the band’s music. He often performed with the band as the Ringmaster during its circus music shows and did many voice-overs for productions throughout the Chicago area. Band director, Ron Keller, says, “I think one of the things that has made the Naperville band unique is people like John who have offered so much expertise, plus a true dedication to the band.”
John Lord (1922-2008)
The Naperville Municipal Band remembers those who provided guidance and leadership during their time with our organization.