Glenn Miller Orchestra 

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Four stars

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Conner Prairie; Aug. 17-18

An overflow audience voted with their feet and sentiment, packing the sanded concrete slab in front of the bandstand to sway and swing to the distinctive sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra with honey-toned vocalists delivering old favorites, including, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “String of Pearls,” “Little Brown Jug” and the wistful “A Nightingale Sang on Barkley Square.” Reformed in 1956, 12 years after the plane carrying Major Glenn Miller from London to Paris went down, the touring band retains the visual moves as well as the arrangements that made Miller the top band from 1938 throughout the early 1940s. Currently directed by trombonist Larry O’Brien, the unique sound is retained. It’s a combination of the clarinet playing a melodic line with a tenor saxophone on the same note, and three other saxophones harmonizing within a single octave. Two Indiana players are part of the nationwide mix of musicians spanning an age range from just out of college to seasoned veterans of the road. On a lovely August evening, the audience lingered longer than usual, simply content to sit on chairs or lie on blankets with nothing but the chirp of crickets to break the silence. One patron remarked, “How often do you get to dance to ‘Moonlight Serenade’ under a crescent moon?”

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

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Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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