By Andrea Lynn An intergenerational group of band-music fans on Wednesday toured the castle of the "March King" - the John Philip Sousa Museum on the UI campus. The group, composed of "Senior Scholars" from The Windsor of Savoy, a local retirement community, and fifth-graders from South Side Elementary School in Champaign, were among the first wave of visitors to explore the newly renovated repository of Sousa artifacts - the primary Sousa collection in the world. The Sousa museum is located on the second floor of the Harding Band Building. Phyllis Danner, coordinator of the museum, showed off a variety of items from the Sousa collection, including photographs, uniforms and instruments. UI music students played some of the unusual instruments in the collection. University Bands holds 74 percent of the Sousa performance library that dates from 1896 to 1932, as well as many other items, including a Sousa podium and stand. John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was widely considered the most important figure in the history of American bands and band music and the most successful bandmaster. Known as the "March King" because he wrote 136 marches, including "The Stars and Stripes Forever," Sousa also composed operettas, suites and many other forms of music. The Senior Scholars Program, presented by UI faculty members to older learners who live near the campus, is sponsored by the UI's Office of Continuing Education and Public Service, Alumni Association and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The Sousa museum tour is the fourth and final session of the Senior Scholars "Sousa Series," which is co-sponsored by The Windsor of Savoy. At the first Sousa session on Jan. 12, the fifth-graders bused to The Windsor of Savoy and lunched with their "classmates," several of whom had seen or worked with Sousa in performance. South Side is The Windsor of Savoy's "partner school" through the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce's "Project Partners." Sousa rose to fame as leader of the U.S. Marine Band; he also invented the sousaphone, and wrote many literary works, including three novels. According to Paul F. Bierley, author of "The Works of John Philip Sousa," the band leader considered the UI band "the finest college band in the world and had great admiration for its director, A. Austin Harding." Some of Sousa's musicians were graduates of Harding's band and others had studied at the university in off-season, Bierley wrote. Sousa even wrote a march, "University of Illinois," for the UI, which he premiered June 17, 1929. The following March, when he visited the UI campus, Sousa was made an honorary conductor of the school band and was given a gold medal. Sousa promised Harding that the Sousa Band library would be willed to the university. After his death in 1932, most of his collection was presented to the university by his family. Topics of upcoming Senior Scholar sessions, to be held at Clark-Lindsey Village, 101 Windsor Road, Urbana, include "The Life, Times and Literature of Mark Twain," Feb. 10, 17 and 24; "Great Books that Changed the World," March 17, 24 and 31; and "Religious Fundamentalism and Fanaticism,"April 7, 14 and 21. More information on the Senior Scholars Program is available from Cheryl Barber at the UI Office of Continuing Education and Public Service.