Ray McVay leads the Glenn Miller Orchestra on 6th June, curtain up at 7.30 p.m.
The 6th June, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy, often referred to as “D-Day”. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and was preceded by months of planning and training.
American band-leader, Glenn Miller brought his Army Air-Force band to UK to entertain the troops.
Back in the late ’30s-early ’40s, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra packed the dance halls in the States. The band enjoyed a string of hits like “In the Mood” and “Tuxedo Junction” as well as “Moonlight Serenade”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” Pennsylvania 65000, American Patrol and many others – songs and melodies that have stood the test of time.
World War II brought the Miller magic to UK. While British men were bemoaning the influx of G.I.s – “overpaid, oversexed and over-here” – they acknowledged that at least the Americans brought some great music with them. In 1944, the band’s musical style and showmanship immediately endeared them to UK audiences. They played some 80-odd concerts around the country and performed some 40 radio broadcasts between July and December of that year.
On December 15, 1944, Glenn boarded a single engine C-64 Norseman aircraft to travel to Paris, France where he was to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast. Tragically, the plane never reached France and was never found.
As far as UK music-lovers were concerned, a special relationship had been forged between them and Glenn Miller and his music – a bond that continues to this day.
The current UK band was put together in 1988 by legendary musical entertainer Ray McVay in conjunction with Glenn Miller Productions in New York. McVay, previously best known as musical director for the original Come Dancing series on BBC, approached the offices of the Glenn Miller estate 31 years ago seeking an arrangement to operate a Glenn Miller Orchestra in UK
Since then, over the last quarter of a century, this great orchestra has built itself into something of an institution as it tours the top provincial venues in the country as well as satisfying a demand for Miller’s music in Europe, Asia and South America.
The Orchestra maintains the exact line up on stage devised by Glenn, consisting of the leader, five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones and three rhythm plus a male and female vocalist. The show features the sublime voices of Mark Porter and Catherine Sykes as well as the glorious harmonies of the Moonlight Serenaders.
The band’s library comprises of more than 200 scores, many of them from the original library, which includes terrific arrangements from both the civilian and Army Air Force orchestras.
Songs made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Louis Armstrongare all featured in a show which also pays tribute to other big band leaders of the era like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman.
The current orchestra leader, Ray McVay, brings over 50 years of musical entertainment experience to the job of putting smiles on the faces of today’s audiences.
The musicians are young and energetic and, it seems, constantly on the move. You’re quite likely to find a bass trombone sneaking up on you and making a rude noise!
So, if you want to relive the music and songs of an era that gave birth to rock’n’roll or even experience it for the first time, come along to the Civic Theatre on 6th June. Box Office: 01245 606 505