The Glenn Miller Orchestra, led by Ray McVay and featuring the Swing Time Jivers, will appear at the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth on Sunday 23rd April.
Back in the late ‘30s to early ‘40s, Glenn Miller and his orchestra packed the dance halls in the US. 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 — timeless songs and melodies.
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 the Americans at least brought some great music with them.
In 1944, the band’s musical style and showmanship immediately endeared them to UK audiences. They played 80-or-so concerts around the country, and performed some 40 radio broadcasts between July and December of that year.
It was during this time the the orchestra played at Southwick House near Portsmouth, a specially-arranged concert for General Dwight Eisenhower and his staff.
On December 15th 1944, Glenn boarded a single engine C-64 Norseman aircraft to travel to Paris, 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 28 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 whilst also satisfying a demand for Miller’s music in Europe, Asia, and South America.
The orchestra maintains the exact line-up on stage as devised by Glenn, comprising the leader, five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and three rhythm, plus a male and a female vocalist. The show features the sublime voices of Mark Porter and Catherine Sykes, plus 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 Armstrong are 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!
Also on the bill are the amazing Swing Time Jivers, a newly-formed Authentic Jazz Dance Company specializing in dance styles from the 1920s through 1960s, including Charleston, swing, Lindy hop, and tap dance, to name a few.
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 New Theatre Royal on Sunday 23rd April.
Book your tickets on the New Theatre Royal website » or by calling the box office on 02392 640 000.