By Joel Hall
The 20-member Glenn Miller Orchestra will take the stage at Clayton State University's Spivey Hall for a single performance on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. The orchestra, led by Musical Director Larry O'Brien, will perform pieces that defined the swing era from Miller's original arrangements.
Spivey Hall Executive and Artistic Director Sam Dixon said the Glenn Miller Orchestra has performed at the concert hall for the last four seasons. He said the band will perform Miller's signature pieces, such as "In the Mood," "Moonlight Serenade," and "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," along with new pieces in the style of the swing era.
"The Glenn Miller Orchestra was probably the most popular swing band in the world," Dixon said. "The music is so reminiscent of the 1930s and 1940s. The music, for the most part, was meant to cheer people up during a really difficult time. It has so much energy and bounce to it. It is jazz meant for dancing. I think that is why people who lived during that time are so loyal to it."
According to Glenn Miller Orchestra Agent Jeff Bush, the orchestra was originally founded in 1937 by Miller, a trombone player. In 1942, at the peak of his popularity, Miller joined the U.S. Army, becoming a musical ambassador for the U.S. Army Air Force Band.
In 1944, a plane Miller boarded from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, went down over the English Channel, according to Bush, and Miller was never seen again. The orchestra has since been carried on in Miller's name and has toured internationally since 1956, Bush said.
"It's been on the road more continuously than any big band orchestra," Bush said. "It's authentic. A lot of people, when they hear jazz, they get scared and walk away. This is very audience-friendly music."
Dixon said the orchestra consists of handpicked musicians who are some of the best jazz players in the world.
"It's extremely polished," he said. "They have all sorts of musicians, some of them are young, some of them have been around for a while. All of them were selected because they have a true understanding of the music. If you didn't know anything about swing music, and you came to hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra, you would be hearing swing at its very best."
Tickets are $40. For more information visit, www.spiveyhall.org or call (678) 466-4200.