By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra will make a two-night stop in Enid, appearing Friday and Saturday at Enid Symphony Center, 301 W. Broadway.
The program will focus on a number of Glenn Miller hits, such as “Moonlight Serenade” and “American Patrol,” along with what may be his best-known hit, “In the Mood.”
Enid Symphony Orchestra Director Douglas Newell said the program would be impromptu, and the orchestra would play from Miller’s songbook. The orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased by calling 237-9646.
“We were looking for something. This year, we scheduled two pops programs; the first was White Christmas, and the second is Glenn Miller,” Newell said. “It’s something special for Valentine’s Day.”
The program has three Enid sponsors: Lew and Myra Ward, Dillingham Insurance and Dr. Robert and Betty Shuttee.
“I’m very excited about this. I’m a big fan of swing music, and it’s a different way to celebrate Valentine’s (Day),” Newell said.
Miller’s story is one of struggling to achieve success. Born in Iowa, he began practicing a horn as often as he could until his parents began to wonder if he would ever do anything. Miller dropped out of the University of Colorado after one semester to concentrate on his music. His first recording under his own name was in 1936, and he sold only a few hundred records, but his instrumental “Solo Hop” reached the top 10.
He toured with musicians such as Tommy Dorsey and Gene Krupa. He cut 18 sides during that time for Benny Goodman and for Dorsey. He later organized the Ray Noble orchestra, which included Charlie Spivak, Peewee Erwin and other greats of the time, according to a history of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, on the band’s website.
Miller organized his own band in 1937, but disbanded it in 1938. Starting another band later proved successful. His second orchestra included such greats as Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton and Ray Eberly. At the New York State Fair in Syracuse, it attracted the largest dancing crowd in the city’s history. The group was invited by the American Society of Composers Actors and Publishers to perform at Carnegie Hall with three of the greatest bands ever: Paul Whiteman, Fred Waring and Goodman.
By combining the sounds of the clarinet and the saxophone, Miller gave his band a distinctive resonance, and achieved his goal of his orchestra having a sound of its own.
Miller recorded 17 top 10 hits including “Sunrise Serenade,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Stairway to the Stars, “Moon Love” and “Over the Rainbow.”
His hit “Tuxedo Junction” sold 115,000 copies the first week. Miller was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and was placed in the Army Special Corps, where he convinced Army leaders he would modernize the army band and improve the morale of the men. In late 1943, Miller and his orchestra were sent to England. In less than one year, Miller and the Army Air Corps Band played 800 performances. On Dec. 15, 1944, he boarded a plane to Paris and was never seen again.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra has become one of the most talked-about swing orchestras since that time. The orchestra travels the U.S. and internationally each year playing the music, with the same arrangements, that made it famous.