Ernest Caneva earned his B.M.E. and M.M.E. degrees at the VanderCook College of Music and also studied at De Paul University and Northwestern University. Caneva's professional experience includes performing on saxophone, clarinet, and accordion with the Golden Gate Rambler Orchestra as well as with radio station orchestras in Chicago and Joliet, Illinois. He also operated music studios in Joliet, Aurora, Lamont, and Lockport.
In 1932 Caneva organized the Lockport High School Band with twenty-two members; by 1940 there were 100 members, and the band was winning wherever it competed. During the forty years that Caneva headed the music department, the Lockport Band won numerous state and national awards, traveling to such cities as New York, Atlantic City, Toronto, Detroit, and Chicago. When the band won the national Music Man contest in 1962, all of the members and the conductor were feted from coast to coast.
Caneva has served as adjudicator and clinician throughout the United States and Canada and was conductor of the United States of America Band and Chorus during the 1967 tour of the Southwest and Mexico.
Caneva belongs to the American Bandmasters Association and the Phi Beta Mu National Bandmasters Fraternity and is a charter member of the American School Band Directors Association and the National Band Association. His honors include the "Mac" Award, Man of the Year in Joliet, Service Award from the Italian-American Club, the 1976 Goldman Award, and the 1962 VanderCook College Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Music excellence has been a way of life in the Caneva family. Mrs. Caneva is a pianist, organist, and choir director; sons Donald and Thomas are well-known band directors; and daughters Maureen, Denise, and Diane are also accomplished musicians.
Ernest Caneva remains active as conductor of the Dellwood Park Band and as program coordinator of the Performing Arts Center in Lockport—recently renamed the Ernest O. Caneva Performing Arts Center.
In addition to arranging both serious and jazz works, Caneva has composed approximately seventy overtures, novelties, and marches which have been published by Carl Fischer, Belwin, Boosey Hawkes, Remick, and Hal Leonard.
Mr. Caneva passed away in 1992.