By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 04, 2018 at 11:16 AM

Next week, the longstanding Milwaukee Public Schools Biennial Music Festival takes place at Summerfest in its newly expanded guise as the All-City Arts Festival.

Details of the event can be found here.

In honor of the move of this nearly century-old MPS tradition to the Summerfest grounds, we’ve heard that the event will close on Friday, May 11 with a special performance.

The MPS high school bands will reportedly perform "The Summerfest Polka" with a guest conductor: a musician who did an early arrangement of this longstanding Brew City favorite.

"When I was working on organizing my music library at (Rufus) King this past summer I found a pretty old arrangement for concert band done by Ron DeVillers," says Ben Zabor, who is chair of art and music at the high school and also leads band, orchestra, drumline and jazz.

"Ron taught for MPS for something like 52 years," adds Zabor, who was Music Teacher of the Year in 2016. "He was at Lincoln High School for a few years and then at Pulaski High School for several decades during its peak. I believe in the mid-1970s Pulaski had five full-time music teachers. So it is Ron that we are bringing back to conduct."

The song was written by then-Mayor Henry Maier and a W. Ericksson and debuted live at the second Big Gig, in 1969.

Maier also recorded the tune with the Gerhard Rudolph Orchestra and it was issued on a Raynard Records 7" 45 the following year as "Milwaukee Summerfest Polka."

Maier’s performance of the song at Summerfest each year was, for a time, sort of the official launch of summer in Milwaukee.

It’ll be great to hear it wafting over the lakefront once again.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.