GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA “SWINGS” INTO HOLSTEIN
By Cary K. & Victoria Conover
Neither sleet, nor snow, nor dead of night could keep patrons of the Rosemary Clausen Center for Performing Arts away from an evening with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. After the April snow postponement, theater-goers were more than ready for a May date to be soothed and swayed to Miller’s unique musical style.
The ladies attending could easily have been pictured in 1940’s long evening skirts, white gloves, rhinestone brooches and crocodile purses. Perhaps cashmere pull-overs, mufflers and pleated slacks would have been right for the gentlemen. From the initial notes, we began to soak in Miller’s favorite quote, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
Glenn Miller, born in Clarinda, Iowa, spent much of his too-short life with the likes of Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, Bing Crosby and Fred Waring. From those giants, he crafted his own distinctive musical grace.
The performance was in the swing from the very beginning with “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” two of Miller’s all-time classics. In addition to enthusiastic applause, the audience responded with a round of “Bravos!” The audience was to learn that throughout the evening they would also be treated to instrumental solos by each of the orchestra members. This writer must say each of these artists was as good with his craft as any other who has graced the Clausen Center stage. They looked the part too. Under the capable direction of Nick Hilscher, all were dressed in matching tuxedos with red coats. They were a sight and sound to behold!
Two distinctive styles of audience members were easy to spot as well. There were those who bob their heads to the rhythm and those who gently sway from side to side. They were plainly evident with the Miller standards, “String of Pearls” and “In the Mood.” All were impressed by hearing “Tuxedo Junction” with four lead trumpets standing on the edge of the stage and giving it their all.
The evening also featured a wonderful soloist in Natalie Angst, who sang a number of offerings including Lerner and Loewe’s “Almost Like Being in Love.” She also added spice to the musical offerings of the Moonlight Serenaders, a vocal quintet comprised of Hilscher, Angst and three members of the orchestra. They offered some of Miller’s lesser-known, but still classic “Little Brown Jug,” Serenade in Blue” and “Kalamazoo.” The orchestra’s showmanship was front and center with Miller’s composition “American Patrol” as it paid homage to our veterans.
With ears full of Glenn Miller and souls filled with contentment, the Clausen Center patrons dismissed themselves to seek that easy swing of life – to seek, to find and then yield to that happy place they found within these theater walls. We strove for and then were coaxed into wonderful remembrances by this class act in Holstein. Long live the Glenn Miller Orchestra!