Naperville Municipal Band honors Ron Keller and Ann Lord in summer concert

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In many ways, it isn’t summer in Naperville until the first notes from a Naperville Municipal Band (NMB) summer concert sound their way across the Central Park bandshell.

Woven into that tradition had been two regular figures on stage…Ron Keller, who served as director of the band for 57 years, and Ann Lord, the Mistress of Ceremonies for 66 years. Thursday was the first summer concert since the deaths of both earlier this year…but their presence still remained, in a special audio tribute.

“We’ve been living in this grief and working through it for quite some time, but for our audience members that haven’t maybe been to indoor concerts, this is the first time that they’re facing the emotion of not seeing them on the stage. So we knew that we wanted to help them with that process and have a very sort of family or community moment all together because we miss these people,” said Emily Binder, director of the Naperville Municipal Band.

Honoring the former Mistress of Ceremonies

In another nod to the two, the band played tribute pieces for each. For Ann, they performed one of her favorite songs, “Radetzky March.” The intro was done by Lord’s daughter Kathy, who offered her best Ann impression.

Ann’s son and new emcee of the NMB, Steve Lord, led the crowd during the clapping portion of the song alongside his siblings Kathy and Doug.

“That was fun. You know, I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen or how that was going to play out, but it was fun. It was nice to have them both there and for all three of us to be up there sharing that moment together,” said Steve Lord.

Remembering the longtime director

Ron Keller was honored with the song “March Kings,” a piece that was composed for him when he marked his 50th year as a conductor. It takes inspiration from his favorite composers.

The band also revealed a new sign renaming the stage as the Dr. Ronald J. Keller Performance Stage.

“It was just, I think, a special way to have his name present all the time. He’ll be in our hearts, we’ll feel him in this space forever,” said Binder.

The Naperville Municipal Band celebrates veterans and first responders

The night of tributes also honored the 80th anniversary of D-Day with the song “Proudly We Hail” and the 150th year of the Naperville Fire Department with “Our American Heroes” and “Midnight Fire Alarm,” which featured special guest performer, Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis, who played an instrument he is keenly in tune with…the fire alarm.

“It was very special to just say thanks to our first responders and then to just have some fun playing music that honors them as well,” said Binder.

Continuing the legacy into a new era of the Naperville Municipal Band

Not only was it the first opening summer concert for Emily Binder as director, and Steve Lord as emcee, but also the first to welcome the crowd into a new era, while carrying the legacy of two members who helped make the band what it is today.

“I think the overarching goal for this year is honoring what has been and gently moving forward,” said Binder.

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