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The band plays on

Posted: Monday, Jul 26th, 2010

Ron Duval has been the director of the Rochelle City Band for more than 20 years

Music. A five- letter word with multiple meanings that brings people of all backgrounds together because of their love for it.

And sometimes they honk their horns because they love it so much!

Every other Wednesday during the summer, you can hear amazing music coming from the west side of town. The Atwood Park Band Shell, to be exact, where the Rochelle Municipal Band performs free concerts for those of us who love music.

Under the current direction of Rochelle Township High School band teacher Ron Duval, the group has a rich history that includes decades of performers who came and went as well as some who are still playing.

“We’re sweating up here, but we’re having a lot of fun,” Duval shared with concert goers at a recent concert this summer where the thermometer was up, but the breeze was no where to be found. This did not stop the band from giving it their all and ending on a high note, a John Phillip Sousa march.

It truly is one of Rochelle’s “Best Kept Secrets.”

Although the band has performed at its present location for three decades, its original home was in Memorial Park with the beautiful tall trees, the classic wooden pavilion where the ice cream social was each year, the military canon and, of course, the band shell.

Add to that the occasional train rumbling through town during performances, and you have what memories are made of. The park would be packed with people in chairs and on blankets as well as in their cars parked around the perimeter. Cars could park in closer proximity to the music then and the applause would many times be drowned out by the horns honking in appreciation.

The arched entrance, the trees and cannon are still there, but the pavilion and band shell are long gone. And, of course, the music is gone.

Duval has directed the band off and on since the late 1980s, with former Rochelle trumpet player and Dixon High School band director Steve Boll filling in a few of those years. Former RTHS music teacher and principal Terry Roderick followed in the footsteps of Carter Ness, Bob Erbes and Bill Gieske and lead the band from 1970 until the 1980s.

Records say that the group organized somewhere between 1910 and 1923 and called themselves the Rochelle Concert Band. The band was funded at that time by local merchants.

For the complete article see the 07-25-2010 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-25-2010 paper.

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