World famous “Glenn Miller Orchestra” in Colby Sunday (WPAA 50th Anniversary Celebration)

Sacha SanguinettiSeptember 16, 2019

One of the greatest Big Bands of all time, the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, is coming to Colby on Sunday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m. CDT, at the Colby Community College Cultural Arts Center.

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,” and “That Old Black Magic.”

Admission to this Western Plains Arts Association 50thAnniversary Celebration program is with WPAA season ticket or at the door: adults, $20 and students $10.

Benefactors for the Miller Orchestra include: The Dane Hansen Foundation, Logan, Kan., the Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation —Dane Hansen Community Grant for Thomas County, and the Seele Foundation. A large number of additional businesses and individuals across the area make these live programs possible.

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.”

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. See www.glennmillerorchestra.com for more information.

In 2003, Miller posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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