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Glenn Miller Orchestra to grace the Gracie Theatre

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Glenn Miller Orchestra to grace the Gracie Theatre (Photo courtesy of the Glenn Miller Orchestra)

BANGOR – Some beloved big band music is coming to Bangor courtesy of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The world-famous orchestra will be playing at Husson University's Gracie Theatre on Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. 

Originally founded by the legendary musician Glenn Miller in 1935, the orchestra would maintain limited success as a swing dance band before soon disbanding. In 1938, a revamped second edition of the orchestra would take off. The band was led by Miller himself until his mysterious disappearance after boarding a transport plane to Paris for a tour in Europe in 1944.

Today, Miller’s legend lives on. Current director and male vocalist Nick Hilscher said that since he has taken over the reins in 2012, he has been focused on recreating the original Glenn Miller sound.

“My passion has been going back and digging into the way the band the played the music originally when Glenn Miller was fronting the orchestra,” said Hilscher. “I have had a great response from our audiences, especially from hardcore fans who know the original sound and are very appreciative of this. There is an element of excitement itself that comes across when you do that way instead of trying to do a new Justin Bieber tune. We are honoring the past and presenting it in a new old way.”

According to Hilscher, the original sound of the orchestra comes from the Glenn Miller reed sound, which features five saxophonists where one of the saxophonists goes to the clarinet and takes the lead line.

“Many bands have attempted to duplicate it, but the Glenn Miller Orchestra does it authentically,” he said. “No one does it better. Glenn always said that a band should have its own personality.”

The Orchestra and Glenn Miller are known for creating the original “Moonlight Serenade” in 1938; the song serves as the band’s theme.

Hilscher joined the orchestra as the featured male vocalist back in 1998 as a 21-year-old. He spent a year on tour before returning to Samford University to get his degree. He would return to the band after graduating. Hilscher worked with trombone great and musical director for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Larry O’Brien, but wound up leaving to work for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under Buddy Morrow.

“Buddy had a completely different style to his leadership [then O’Brien]. In some respects, it was little more relaxed, but [it] is musically exceptional. I learned a lot from seeing someone else do it,” said Hilscher.

He would return to the Glenn Miller orchestra in 2012, taking over as the director.

“Over the years, I have developed my own way of leading the band and fronting the band with my own show that still really showcases what we do as the Glenn Miller Orchestra,” he said. “I got into music when I was 11 years old and this is sort of the next step in my particular music path.”

The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs over 300 shows a year. “Part of being a professional musician is to be able to play every night and to do it fresh,” said Hilscher. “It’s something that I love and enjoy.This is a passion of mine, I enjoy it and it just rolls off my tongue.”

The concert will feature Miller’s instrumental classics, said Hilscher. “It's the old-school era swing music and the same instrumentation as Glenn Miller’s band.”

The night will feature plenty of supplemental music as well. The orchestra carries over 225 pieces of music with them every night. Female vocalist Maria Schafer will be featured, along with a five-person vocal group made up of Hilscher, Schafer and three of the band members.

“If they want to hear great live music, we are very talented musicians getting up there and playing as a fine ensemble,” said Hilscher “The band is really great. It is a predominately a group of young musicians and very exciting music-makers.”

Tickets for the August 1 performance at the Gracie Theatre can be purchased online at The orchestra is also making an appearance in Portland for two shows at One Longfellow Square on August 3.

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 12:44


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