Of all the insouciant, joyous and definitively danceable music around in the Thirties and Forties, the Glenn Miller Orchestra played what was possibly the best known. Miller and his big band were one of the hottest acts on the music scene for half a dozen years. They put out a string of smash hits like "In the Mood," "Tuxedo Junction" and "Chattanoga Choo Choo," which had 'em shaking a leg all across the US and Europe.
While Miller died in a plane crash in 1944, en route to entertain US troops in France, the spirit of his music lives on through the band's records and numerous cover versions by swing-minded outfits. Taking the latter endeavor a step or two further, Wil Salden resurrected the ensemble in 1985 and has been recording Miller's music and taking it around the world with great success ever since. On June 23, he and his 18-piece ensemble will perform some of Miller's greatest hits at Amphi Park in Ra'anana.
Salden's success is proof of the timeless appeal of Miller's music. Even though Salden - who also plays piano in the band - was born in the Netherlands a full six years after Miller's passing, he became enamored with the swing music of the Forties from an early age. When he was 28, he began investigating Miller's work in earnest and performing his pieces in public.
"Wherever I gave concerts I saw that the authentic Glenn Miller music still captivated ball- and concert-goers, so little by little I worked on my selection," Salden says. "I was able to acquire original sheet music and therefore I could take over the Glenn Miller arrangements. However, not every original was preserved; long research was necessary, and some pieces had to be reconstructed note by note and arranged in Miller's style."
For Salden, this was truly a labor of love.
Once he had laid his hands on enough sheet music, he set about finding musicians who could perform it with the requisite spirit and formally established the Second Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1982. It took a full three years, working between Salden's other professional commitments, to get the act up and running, but once it hit the road, the show became a roaring - and swinging - success. In the intervening 22 years, Salden and his troupe have staged over 3,200 concerts.
For Salden, Miller has a place among the greatest composers and musicians of all time.
"Without pieces like 'Moonlight Serenade' or 'In the Mood,' no Glenn Miller concert would be thinkable," he declares. "This music will enter music history, just like Mozart's 'A Little Night Music.'"
Tickets for the Second Glenn Miller Orchestra's June 23 performance at the Amphi Park in Ra'anana can be reserved by calling (03) 604-5000 or *5000. Tickets are priced at NIS 189 to 249.