Naperville band to honor town founder with 'Captain Joe Naper March'

Updated 10/31/2013 4:55 PM

The Naperville Municipal Band is continuing the trend of honoring the city's founding father with a march to be played in Joseph Naper's honor Sunday at the ensemble's annual fall concert.

The "Captain Joe Naper March" will be played for the first time in its current form during the free concert at 3 p.m. at Wentz Concert Hall on the North Central College campus at 171 E. Chicago Ave.


Sunday's show follows the August dedication of a 9-feet-tall sculpture of Naper that became the first public art recognizing the man who settled the city in 1831.

"I got the fleeting idea that we would close the concert with the Joe Naper March," said Ron Keller, director of the Naperville Municipal Band. "It was apropos since we just dedicated the sculpture."

The march itself was written by former band director Elmer Koerner and first performed by Keller and fellow band members in 1956, he said.

"He originally didn't have a name for it," Keller said. "He just called it my march."

But the city's namesake was suggested as a fitting moniker for the tune, so Koerner stuck with it. Then the "Captain Joe Naper March" got filed away, found only by accident when Keller was looking for something else. He updated some of the parts and figured this fall would be a fitting time to give the old tune new life.

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As the 90-member band performs the three-minute march, Keller said the audience will see a video of the sculpture dedication, starting with sketching and casting the piece in bronze, and finishing as it is driven through downtown and unveiled at Mill Street and Jefferson Avenue.

"They're going to show that on the screen behind the band while we play the march," Keller said about the video showing the $185,000 sculpture, designed by Dick Locher and cast by Jeff Adams.

The fall concert is titled "The Classics & Sousa," as it is being held three days before John Philip Sousa's Nov. 6 birthday, Keller said. Along with the Naper March, the band will play such Sousa pieces as "Liberty Loan," and "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

The band's next performances are a Christmas concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1 at Wentz Hall, and Tuba Christmas, featuring carols played on as many as 70 tubas, sousaphones and euphoniums at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 in downtown Naperville and at Westfield Fox Valley shopping center.

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