Glenn Miller Orchestra: Their Greatest Hits Show!
Conductor/Soloist: Nick Hilscher
Vocalist: Hannah Truchenbrod
The Moonlight Serenaders Vocal Group
18-piece Glenn Miller Orchestra
In Concert: Thursday, June 14, 2018, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri
On tour now, as has been in the past, and will be in the future, The 18-member Glenn Miller Orchestra just keeps on going like one of their signature songs, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” Glenn Miller was a famous musician (trombone), composer and arranger in the late 1930’s to mid-1940’s when he tragically died in a plane crash over the English Channel during WWII. He was a Major in the military. Miller’s style of music, called “swing” was popular then and now. A sampling of other bands of that period were Benny Goodman (clarinet), and Harry James (trumpet). The Miller Orchestra wore red jackets this particular evening and it was more of a formal attire night, as befits the dance era of the 1940’s.
Each of the Big Bands had their theme song, and with the Miller Orchestra it is “Moonlight Serenade” which was written by Glenn Miller as part of a music class in arranging. It is considered a standard today. Each Big Band had a distinctive sound and with the Miller Orchestra it is the clarinet on the melody line, doubled or coupled with tenor saxophone with harmony by three other saxophones. Trombones and trumpets add a bass line. This distinction comes through in songs made popular by this group including “Pennsylvania 6-5000.” When composing the song, they couldn’t come up with a title, so used the hotel’s telephone number as such. Other favorites are “Serenade in Blue,” “A String Of Pearls,” “The American Patrol” or “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree.”
In 1941, the Orchestra had more hit records in one year than anybody in the history of the recording industry. Their recording of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” received the first Gold Record ever to be awarded.
When the vocalists have their section of the program, the close harmony of the vocal quartet (composed of band members) is very close to barbershop harmony. They are called “The Moonlight Serenaders” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” was an audience favorite.
There is something soothing about music of the Big Band era. Melodies flow, lyrics are understandable and harmonies are concise to the end of the selection. It is a “all’s right in the world” type of feeling. One of my mother’s favorite Glenn Miller songs was “In The Mood,” which was also on the Play List for this evening.
Acoustics are very good in the Muriel Kauffman Hall, part of the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, and the balconies have silver fronts on them that resemble silver marshmallow puffs. Modified stadium seating. This orchestra is constantly on tour world-wide throughout the year, so check their web site for dates and a location near you. Your feet will want to dance and the professionalism of the band brings back memories of radio music to some and will create new memories for those watching and listening for the first time. It is habit forming and never grows old.
Copyright 2018 Marie Asner