One of the most beloved orchestras in all of music is coming to Salina. The Glenn Miller Orchestra is coming to the Stiefel Theatre on Saturday, September 28th.
According to the Stiefel, the legendary Glenn Miller was one of the most successful of all dance bandleaders back in the Swing Era of the 1930’s and 40’s. A matchless string of hit records, the constant impact of radio broadcasts and the drawing power at theatres, hotels and dance pavilion, built and sustained the momentum of popularity.
Glenn disbanded his musical organization in 1942 at the height of its popularity to volunteer for the Army. There, he organized and led the famous Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. It went to Europe to entertain servicemen performing numerous live and radio shows. On December 15, 1944, Major Miller took off in a single engine plane from Europe to precede his band to France, disappearing over the English Channel, never to be seen again. The army declared him officially dead a year later.
With the release of the major motion movie The Glenn Miller Story featuring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson in 1954, interest and popular demand led the Miller Estate to authorize the formation of the present Glenn Miller Orchestra. On June 6, 1956, and under the direction of drummer Ray McKinley who had become the unofficial leader of the Army Air Force Band after Glenn’s disappearance, the reformed Glenn Miller Orchestra performed its first concert and has been on the road ever since. Other leaders have followed Ray including clarinetists Buddy DeFranco and Peanuts Hucko, trombonists Buddy Morrow, Jimmy Henderson, Larry O’Brien and Gary Tole, and tenor saxophonist Dick Gerhart. Since January 2012, vocalist Nick Hilscher leads 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 selections arranged and performed in the Miller style and sound.
The orchestra has performed in all 50 United States, as well as throughout Europe, Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Guam, the Philippines, South and Central America.
The “Road Book” carried by the Glenn Miller Orchestra adds up to over 300 charts-many of them out of the original library. 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.
Of course, all of the biggest hits are included in a regular program. But so are arrangements of less well-known tunes like The White Cliffs of Dover, Rainbow Rhapsody, Everybody Loves My Baby, and That’s Sabotage. The Miller library features contributions from many fine arrangers including Bill Finegan, Jerry Gray, Billy May, Mort Lindsay, Deane Kinkaide, Joe Cribari, and Dave Wolpe. They have added such numbers as Over the Rainbow, September Morn, The Body Electric from the T.V. series Fame, Up Where We Belong, from the hit movie, An Officer and a Gentleman, and Star Wars/War of The Stars.
Just as it was in Glenn’s day, the Glenn Miller Orchestra today is still the most sought after big band in the world.
Tickets to see the The Glenn Miller Orchestra start at $29 and go on sale Friday.