glenn_miller_blog

A legend lives on

Big Band leader Glenn Miller once said:

“A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.”
 

The Centene Center stage will be loaded with personality when The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra performs in concert on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. Reserved seating is $17.50, but discounted pricing is available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at the Farmington Civic Center or charged by phone at (573) 756-0900.  The performance is being sponsored by the arts council and the City of Farmington.

The band  was chosen because it not only has mass appeal, it has a colorful history.

Glenn Miller’s music was the soundtrack during an era of our nation’s history that made the world as we know it today, possible. He was a big-band leader who played all sorts of venues for the wealthy during the years leading up to World War II, and when the nation went to war, so did the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Miller dropped out of college in 1924 to pursue a career in music, touring with several orchestras before ending up in a big band in Los Angeles. In 1928, he moved to New York City, got married, and spent the next three years earning his living as a free-lance trombonist and arranger.

Miller spent his early years playing and recording with the greats of that day– Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Eddie Condon and Coleman Hawkins. In April 1935, Glenn Miller recorded, for the first time, under his own name, “Moonlight on the Ganges” and “A Blues Serenade” for Columbia.

In 1937, he had a false start leading his own band, but less than a year later had hit his stride, dropping the horn for a clarinet. He shot to the top of the charts, and in 1941, it was off to Hollywood where the band worked on its first movie, “Sun Valley Serenade”, which introduced the song — and soon-to-be million selling record –”Chattanooga Choo Choo”, and featured the Modernaires and the Nicholas Brothers.

But the war was starting to take its toll on many of the big bands as musicians, and the rest of country’s young men, began receiving draft notices. On October 7, 1942, Alton Glenn Miller reported for induction into the Army and was immediately assigned to the Army Specialist Corps. His appointment as a Captain came after many months of convincing the military higher-ups that he could modernize the army band and ultimately improve the morale of the men. His training complete, he was transferred into the Army Air Corps, where he ultimately organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. Miller’s goal of entertaining the fighting troops took another year to be realized, but in late 1943 he and the band were shipped out to England.

There, in less than one year, the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band engaged in over 800 performances. Of these, 500 were broadcasts heard by millions. There were more than 300 personal appearances including concerts and dances, with a gross attendance of over 600,000. But Glenn was not to participate in the final six months of these activities.

In the Fall of 1944, the band was scheduled to be sent on a six-week tour of Europe and would be stationed in Paris during that time. Miller decided to go ahead, in order to make the proper arrangements for the group’s arrival. And so, on December 15th, Glenn Miller boarded a transport plane to Paris, never to be seen again.

In his book “Glenn Miller & His Orchestra”, George Simon wrote this about the man. “His favorite author was Damon Runyon. His favorite book was the Bible. Spencer Tracy and Olivia de Havilland were his favorite movie actor and actress. His big loves were trout fishing, playing baseball, listening to good music, sleep and money. His pet hates were bad swing, early-morning telephone calls (he liked to sleep from 4 a.m. to noon), and the phrase ‘goodbye now’. His favorite quotation, one he stated, was not from the Bible, nor from Runyon, but from Duke Ellington: ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing If it Ain’t Got that Swing!’”

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.

For more information on on activities and events at the Civic Center, visit www.farmington-mo.gov or phone (573) 756-0900. For more information on arts council programs,call Danielle Basler at (573) 518-2125.

Tags: , ,