The "1812" Overture and 4th of July
The tradition of performing the "1812" Overture at the Fourth of July concert began in 1977. Naperville Mayor Chester Rybiki requested the "1812" Overture, one of his favorite pieces. Director Ron Keller told him that in order to play the piece, the band would need cannons. The very next day Mayor Rybiki called back: "Where and when do you need them?" he asked. He had arranged for four Howitzers from a National Guard unit!
In order to do it up right, Ron Keller then contacted the four churches within a block of Central Park and arranged to use their bells. Civil defense volunteers with walkie-talkies were positioned at each church. When the proper time came, Ron gave them a cue, and all the church bells rang for the finale. Bells, cannons and band! The tradition continues; every year at the concert closest to the 4th of July, the band plays the "1812" Overture - today with six Civil War cannons in the park.
8th Grade Scholarship Award
An ongoing goal of the Naperville Municipal Band is to nurture young musicians. The band continues to play concerts with school bands and gives music scholarships to 8th graders from each middle school in Naperville school districts 203 and 204 and Ss Peter and Paul and St. Raphael Schools. Recipients are recommended by their middles school band directors. These students are invited to join the band on two music selections during the first concert of the summer season.
At left: Scholarship students sit in with the Naperville Municipal Band trumpet section during rehearsal for the first summer concert.
Memorial and Labor Day Parades
A true community band, the NMB participates annually in the Naperville Memorial Day and the Labor Day "Last Fling" parades. Preceding the band is a convertible transporting band members who have played in the band 50+ years. Following the convertible is the NMB corps of twirlers, many of them children of NMB members. A color guard is composed of select band members, followed by drum major Bret Richter and the band proper.
Rain or shine, hot or cold the band is usually the first musical group in each parade lineup. Somewhere on YouTube there is a video of the 2010 parade where the rain was so heavy, the parade was canceled as it was getting started. Not having any place to take shelter the band marched (and played) onward to the Concert Center in Central Park!
Naperville Municipal Band Traditions
Over the years, and there have been quite a few since 1859, various traditions have developed within the Naperville Municipal Band.
Sponsor's Raffle and NMB Raffle
In 2009 the NMB celebrated it's sesquicentennial year. That summer each concert was a special event and a reading commemorating each era of the band's 150 years was presented. In conjunction with this presentation, businesses from the Downtown Naperville Community sponsored raffles. Each concert goer picked up printed program as they entered the park and each program contained a lottery number.
Two numbers were drawn each week and the lucky audience members were awared gift certificates to the sponsor's business. Additionally, the NMB sponsored two $25 gift certificates for the Downtown Naperville businesses. The raffles proved so popular and sponsors were eager to continue the following year, it has now become an official traidtion and part of our regular summer concert programs.
The Star Spangled Banner
Regular Thursday evening concert goers are familiar with the opening routine: The stage door begins to rise, the explosive sound of the tympani roll, the snare drum sets the tempo and the Theme Song begins sans conductor. Ann Lord makes her appearance, welcomes everyone to the park and introduces the evening's conductor who comes onstage to conduct the National Anthem.
First time concert attendees are always a little confused when they stand to sing The Star-Spangled Banner because they can see the American flag onstage to the conductor's left. However, seasoned concert goers for decades have stood and turned around to face the flag pole in Central Park as they sing, giving the impression they've turned their back to the band and flag on the stage! So if you are a first time concert attendee, remember to face the flag pole with the rest of the crowd!!