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Article posted: 10/18/2012 7:48 AM

Naperville Municipal Band includes Halloween in genre-spanning concert

By Katlyn Smith

You won't hear werewolf howls or chain saws. (Phew!) Still, Naperville Municipal Band Director Ron Keller promises this year's fall concert has a Halloween flavor.

The 90-piece band will tackle the "The Phantom of the Opera," plus waltzes, Latin-inspired rhythms and a patriotic staple in a genre-spanning concert Sunday, Oct. 21, at Metea Valley High School in Aurora.

At first glance, Keller's themes for concerts are head scratchers (see "Schnitzel and Shamrocks" from winter 2010). The longtime director and conductor's real goal, though, is an unexpected, varied playlist that challenges his musicians and satisfies a loyal audience.

It's a lesson he learned in arranging a tribute to composer Leroy Anderson with a bit too much of Leroy Anderson.

"The worst thing you can do is have a theme that limits you," said Keller, in his 48th year at the helm. "It's like eating ice cream morning, noon and night."

Ahead of Sunday's concert, Keller is eyeing Alfred Reed's "Second Suite for Band" as the biggest test for band members.

"It doesn't have to be hard to be good," Keller said. "But I want them to play musically, and I want them to play with feeling and expression."

The band typically schedules a fall concert in November but moved this year's performance in order to collaborate with Metea Valley's wind ensemble. The two groups will join onstage for "Danse Macabre" and "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Keller said he's unfazed by the earlier-than-usual fall concert.

"I don't get uptight," Keller said. "I used to. There was a time when I couldn't eat supper before a concert."

Ultimately, he wants to preach a lifelong lesson to Metea students.

"It shows these kids you can play and have a good time with music through your entire life," said Keller, noting members of the band range in age from 16 to 90.

The joint concert marks the first time Metea students are performing with the municipal band, said Metea Fine Arts Department Chair Don Devany.

"For students, this is an opportunity to perform with a community ensemble and to perform with people in a variety of professions, a variety of ages" said Devany, also the wind ensemble director.

And there might be a surprise for the audience, Keller said, without divulging the details.

But it likely won't scare your pants off.

The free concert begins 3 p.m. in the auditorium of Metea Valley High School, 1801 N. Eola Road. For details, call (630) 778-9994 or visit napervilleband.org.

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