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Glenn Miller Orchestra gets Cortez crowd dancing

Big band closes out Southwest Colorado Concert season

Southwest Colorado Concerts’ 2017-2018 season wrapped up Monday evening with the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The orchestra, under the guidance of singer and director Nick Hilscher, performed a mixture of originals and covers at Montezuma-Cortez High School’s Ralph E. Vavak Memorial Auditorium.

The set featured melodic ballads and upbeat tunes such as “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” which audience members danced to on the dance floor set aside in the auditorium.

Alton Glenn Miller got his start when his father bought a mandolin. After giving college a try at the University of Colorado, he dropped out to focus on a career as a musician.

Miller played and recorded with musicians such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa.

It was after the failure of his own band in 1937 that Miller developed his sound, produced by the clarinet holding the melody line while the tenor sax plays the same note.

The next year, Miller gave the orchestra another try and began breaking records all along the East Coast and playing at Carnegie Hall.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra made record-breaking recordings as well, such as “Tuxedo Junction,” which sold 115,000 recordings in the first week, according to a news release.

In 1941, the band recorded “Chattanooga Choo Choo” for its first movie, “Sun Valley Serenade.”

During World War II, Miller was assigned to the Army Air Corps, where he organized the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.

The band was set to play in Paris in 1944, but Miller went missing in action after he boarded a plane to Paris on Dec. 15.

Donald Raney, information technology specialist and concert emcee, announced before Monday’s performance that Southwest Colorado Concerts’ board president, Jason Witt, is leaving the organization.