Empire Statesmen 25th Anniversary Season Field Show Music Details

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Rochester’s Empire Statesmen will entertain audiences during their 25th anniversary season this summer by performing some of the most popular numbers from their field presentations over the past two and half decades, songs that have stories to tell beyond the melodies, touching the high points in the development of North American popular music since the beginning of the Swing Era.

The field show includes highlights of the three main musical themes that have defined the Statesmen’s contest routines since 1983: songs from the Big Band era, selections from some of the most popular shows ever to appear on Broadway, and patriotic salutes to the men and women of the armed services. The anniversary theme is a tribute to corps founder Vince Bruni, who passed away in 2003. As with earlier presentations, the Statesmen’s anniversary show will emphasize entertaining the audience while still competing at top level.

The field show for 2008 features an opening fanfare of Moonlight Serenade, followed by Take The A Train and Sing, Sing, Sing. The arrangement of My Way will include snippets of Broadway hits Sun and Moon and With Every Breath I Take. The percussion section feature is The Rumble. The show comes to a conclusion with a stirring medley of patriotic music.

Moonlight Serenade, the theme song of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, was recorded in 1939. In March of that year, Miller’s band was chosen to play the summer season at the prestigious Glen Island Casino, in New Rochelle, New York, following an important spring engagement in Meadowbrook, New Jersey. Both venues offered frequent radio broadcasts, and by mid-summer, the Glenn Miller Orchestra had developed a nationwide audience. Moonlight Serenade introduced listeners across the continent to swing music, and helped stimulate worldwide interest in big band jazz and swing.

Also in 1939, Billy Strayhorn, hoping to impress Duke Ellington, wrote a composition using the New York transit travel instructions Ellington’s office staff had given him to get to the band’s venue: Take The A Train. But the band didn’t record the song until nearly a year later, when radio networks set up their own publishing organization, BMI, and announced they would not play any ASCAP music. Ellington’s broadcast repertoire was virtually wiped out overnight. He presented an updated arrangement of Take The A Train as his new theme on radio broadcasts. It was his greatest commercial success.

Nobody anticipated the audience reaction that sparked the start of a new musical era when Benny Goodman and his band arrived at New York’s Paramount Theater on March 3, 1937 to find hundreds of students waiting in line for an 8:30 a.m. concert preceding a Claudette Colbert movie. When the excited listeners heard the first notes of Goodman’s theme, Let’s Dance, they did just that. They spilled out into the aisles, up on to the bandstand, and anywhere else they could find room to dance. When the 43 minute set finished up with “Sing, Sing, Sing” the Swing Era had officially begun. Sing, Sing, Sing, probably the most famous tune of the Swing Era, was written by Louis Prima, featuring vocals, but Goodman’s musicians kept adding new passages, and Gene Krupa’s drumming became the strong foundation for the song. The tune evolved until it eventually became eight minutes long, and filled both sides of a 78 rpm record.

Music super star Frank Sinatra was considering retiring in 1967 when he bumped into Canadian pop singer and composer Paul Anka in Florida and asked him to write a song for him. Anka returned to New York and sat down at his piano at one o’clock in the morning. Five hours later, Anka finished the lyrics for My Way, based on the tune of a French song, Comme D’habitude, (As Usual), that he had heard a year earlier in Europe. In the studio, Sinatra recorded My Way in just one take and quickly abandoned the idea of retiring. My Way immediately became his signature song, one of the most recognizable songs in the world.

In the hit Broadway show Miss Saigon, Sun and Moon is the song pledging the love between Kim, a young Vietnamese bar girl and Chris, the American GI who eventually must leave her behind during the withdrawal from Saigon, not realizing she is pregnant with their son. The Sun and Moon theme plays again in the background near the climax of the play as Kim lies dying in his arms, knowing that their son Tam will return to the United States with Chris and his wife Ellen.

City of Angels was the first Broadway hit musical with a full-blown jazz score. Set in the glamour of the 1940s Hollywood film world, it tells the story of a young novelist creating a screenplay. Each character in the real world is echoed by a character in the reel world of the screenplay, a film noir private-eye tale with the sets and costumes all in black and white. Every Breath I Take is the lament to a strained relationship, sung by the black and white alter ego of the screenwriter’s wife.

The Rumble, with percussion effects dramatizing the classic street fight in West Side Story, takes place in a grim New York setting: the underside of the Manhattan Bridge, where members of the Puerto Rican Sharks battle the Anglo Jets in the updated version of Romeo and Juliet. West Side Story retells the age-old story of lovers crossing racial and ethnic barriers, transforming it in radical style for a musical, to focus on racial strife between rival New York street gangs. On stage, famous choreographer Jerome Robbins staged the rumble between the two gangs. Both stage show and film featured the musical score, songs and lyrics of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

The Empire Statesmen’s anniversary season field show debuts at Whitmer High School Stadium in Toledo, Ohio on June 21, the opening weekend of Drum Corps International’s (DCI) summer contest season. The Statesmen will perform in exhibition. The contest features seven world-class DCI corps.

Over the past two and half decades include, the Empire Statesmen have won five Drum Corps Associates (DCA) world championships, four American Legion national titles, and the triple crown: the DCA and American Legion titles and the World Show Band championship in London, England all in the same year in 1998, when the field show featured music from West Side Story. Empire Statesmen have finished in the top four during DCA championship tournaments for 20 consecutive years.

The Statesmen are sponsoring the DCA championships for the third year in a row, with events in several downtown Rochester locations and at PAETEC Park stadium on Labor Day weekend.

The Empire Statesmen drum and bugle corps is a self-supporting independent group that represents the city of Rochester across the United States and Canada and as far abroad as Europe, the Caribbean and South America.

For more information about any aspect of the Empire Statesmen organization, call (585) 266-2232 or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at: www.statesmen.org

Posted by on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008. Filed under DCA News.