Spend an evening with the Glenn Miller Orchestra Oct. 7
One of the greatest Big Bands of all time, the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, is coming to Colby on Saturday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. CDT, at the Colby Community College Cultural Arts Center.
The Western Plains Arts Association is sponsor of the special evening performance. Admission is by WPAA season ticket or at the door: adults, $20 and students $10.
Major contributors for the Glenn Miller Orchestra include: The Dane Hansen Foundation, Logan, Kan., the Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation —Dane Hansen Community Grant for Thomas County, Bird City. A large number of businesses and individuals across the area make these live programs possible.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra has been swinging in his memory ever since 1954. Miller started his orchestra in March 1938. After touring with Benny Goodman, the Dorseys, and other greats, Miller began recording under his own name for Columbia records in 1935. During his professional career, the Glenn Miller Orchestra produced an average of more than ten Top 10 hits every year from 1939 through 1944.
Just a few of his career hits include: Moonlight Serenade, Tuxedo Junction, Pennsylvania 6-5000, In the Mood, A String of Pearls, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, Chattanooga Choo-Choo and That Old Black Magic.
In October 1942, Glenn Miller reported for induction into the Army, disbanding the orchestra during his years of service. He was immediately assigned to the Army Specialist Corps. He eventually earned the rank of captain, then major, and ultimately organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.
To assist the war effort, his band performed at military camps across the globe and hosted a weekly radio services. Following a tour in Great Britain, Miller boarded a transport plane to Paris on Dec. 15, 1944, disappearing over the English Channel. He was never to be seen again. The army declared him and the others on that plane officially dead a year later.
“A band ought to have a sound all of its own,” Miller once said. “It ought to have a personality.” The Glenn Miller Orchestra has always been very musical, disciplined, and visually entertaining. And it has its own distinctive “sound." That sound is created by the clarinet holding the melodic line, doubled or coupled with the tenor sax playing the same notes; and the harmonies produced by three other saxophones, while growling trombones and wailing trumpets add their oo-ahs.
Miller was born in Clarinda, Iowa, in 1904. He got his start several years later in North Platte, Neb., when his father brought home a mandolin. Miller promptly traded it for an old battered trombone, which he practiced every chance he got. He mother once quipped, “It got to where Pop and I used to wonder if he’d ever amount to anything.”
In 1923, Miller entered the University of Colorado, although he spent more time traveling to auditions and playing where and whenever he could. After flunking three of his five courses one semester, Miller dropped out to concentrate on his career as a professional musician.
With the 1954 release of the movie “The Glenn Miller Story”, featuring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, interest and popular demand led the Miller Estate to authorize the formation of the present Glenn Miller Orchestra. The orchestra was under the direction of drummer Ray McKinley, who had become the unofficial leader of the Army Air Force Band after Miller’s disappearance.
Since January 2012, vocalist Nick Hilscher has led the band. Today, the 18-member ensemble continues to play many of the original Miller arrangements both from the civilian band and the AAFB libraries. Additionally, it also plays some more modern selection arranged and performed.
The group consists of the music director, five saxophone players, four trumpeters, four trombonists, and three rhythm musicians (piano, bass and drums). Also, there are two vocalists, one male and one female, who perform individually and as part of The Moonlight Serenaders® vocal group.
The big-band business today requires almost constant travel as a result of an arduous schedule of one-night stands. The Glenn Miller Orchestra is “on the road” longer and more continuously than any other in the world, having celebrated 67 years. It covers over a hundred thousand miles a year, working most every night for 48 weeks out of every 52-nearly 300 playing dates, performing for an “in person” audience that adds up to more than a half million people annually. Today, the complete library totals over 1,700 compositions including all of the original charts from both the civilian band and the Army Air Force Band.
In 2003, Miller posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.See www.glennmillerorchestra.com for more information.