Big band swings into town for festive sing-song season at Hornchurch theatre
PUBLISHED: 14:54 18 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:54 18 December 2015
Many bands today have a short shelf-life of a few years, and not many can lay claim to a 77-year history as can the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
The big band makes a welcome return to the Queen’s Theatre on Sunday with two festive performances set to swing audiences into the yuletide season.
Ray McVay, who has been the big band’s conductor for 21 years, spoke to the Recorder about how the job came about.
“My father was a musician and he started me off playing,” he said.
“I went down to London to play the sax but there wasn’t much work around because rock ‘n’ roll was coming in.”
Ray then joined a rock ‘n’ roll touring package which featured legendary stars such as Eddie Cochran whose hits include C’mon Everybody and Summertime Blues, and Gene Vincent, whose hit Be-Bop-A-Lula is regarded as an early example of the rockabilly genre.
His passion however lay with big band jazz style music.
Ray said: “I was brought up on that type of music and I love it.”
Ray left the rock ‘n’ roll touring outfit with a yearning to perform the music he loved.
He decided to form a band and invited members of Glenn Miller’s band to play, but instead he was invited over to America to discuss his idea and it all started from there.
“I said I wanted the original music of Glenn Miller and I was told I could have it,” said Ray.
With a matinee and evening performance, the orchestra will play festive music such as Sleigh Ride, Joy to the World, Santa Claus is coming to town and Jingle Bells among many others sung by an array of big band vocalists including Colin Anthony and Catherine Sykes.
Colin has worked with the Beatles, Tom Jones and Jerry Lee Lewis and performed on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio Big Band, while Catherine has played the 100 and 606 Clubs and been featured on BBC Radio 2.
The band will also be supported by one of Europe’s most popular jazz dance companies, the Jiving Lindy Hoppers who will dazzle the audience with their high-energy lindy-hop, tap and Charleston routines.
The fun will not stop there, adding to the mix will be 40s chart-toppers, wartime favourites, big band hits and other well-loved melodies.
The audience can also expect a great big band sing-a-long to tunes including Juke Box Saturday Night, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Little Brown Jug and It Happened in Sun Valley.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs at the Queen’s Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch on Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets cost £21 and £19 for concessions. To book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or book online at queens-theatre.co.uk