Music in Owatonna 'Big Band 2008' June 7

Music in Owatonna 'Big Band 2008'
June 7 features Glenn Miller Orchestra

Music in Owatonna will present "Big Band 2008," an evening featuring a performance by the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, on Saturday, June 7, in the rare- aircraft hangar at Degner Regional Airport in Owatonna.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; performance time is 7:30 p.m.

Bring your dancin' shoes and come ready to take a spin to "Moonlight Serenade," "Stardust," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and dozens of other hits that have given this orchestra sought-after status for more than a half-century.

Miller's original orchestra was formed in 1937. In just a few years its tunes were topping the charts: "Tuxedo Junction" sold 115,000 copies in its first week, and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was a million-seller. Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" on CBS Radio aired three times a week. Reporting for military service in 1942, Miller soon organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. Its broadcasts were heard by millions all over the world. In fall 1944, the band was scheduled for a six-week European tour, and Miller decided to travel ahead to make arrangements for the band's arrival in Paris. His plane disappeared, apparently in bad weather, and his body was never found.

The present Glenn Miller Orchestra was formed in 1956 and has toured consistently ever since, performing about 300 times a year around the world. Trombonist Larry O'Brien is the orchestra's current musical director.

Owatonna 's own "Hot Potatoes" -- vocalists Gail Thompson, Cyndi Maas, Bev Cashman and Tammi Ferch, with Rich Reseland on bass, Michael Ferch on drums and pianist Deb Brecht -- are the evening's opening act.

Tickets, $15 general and $10 for seniors and students with I.D., will be available at the door and are on sale in advance at Owatonna businesses Kottke Jewelers, Owatonna Shoe and Tone Music.  Patron packages are available, too.

Music in Owatonna is a civic group dedicated to hosting high-quality music performances in the Owatonna community. Over the past 14 years it has hosted music festivals and performances featuring the Minnesota Orchestra and chamber orchestras; blues, jazz, country and sacred music; and traditional Irish music. 

Honorary co-chairs of "Big Band 2008" are Owatonna music men Armond Rezac and Berlyn Staska.

Rezac's musical career has spanned upwards of six decades. He spent three years playing saxophone and clarinet in the Air Force Band, three years playing on the road and many years teaching accordion in Owatonna and Waseca. He has fronted the Armond Rezac Band for the last 60 years years and performed at the Steele County Free Fair for 52 consecutive years.

Staska, who began playing trombone and bass when he was 5, played in the Owatonna High School Band under the direction of Harry Wenger. He's played in Owatonna Elks bands, the 100-year-old Klecker Family Band, with Rezac in the River City Big Band and Luverne's Concertina Band. He was a co-founder of the Owatonna Community Band, which continues to perform today.

Major sponsors of this year's Music in Owatonna concert are Federated Insurance Foundation, the Owatonna People's Press, the University of St. Thomas, Wells Fargo and the Wenger Foundation.

For more information, call Marlene Levine at St. Thomas' Gainey Conference Center, (507) 446-4464.