Visitors and entertainers from around the world converge in Clarinda, Iowa, the birthplace of Glenn Miller, to celebrate the music of the great American bandleader, trombonist, composer and arranger. The festival begins with the annual Glenn Miller Music Scholarship competition as high school seniors and college freshmen from across the country compete in vocalist and instrumental competitions for a chance to win scholarships. In all, the Glenn Miller Birthplace Society awards $12,000 in scholarships, annually.
In addition to a picnic at the historic town square, a free concert is performed by the Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble. This 18-member professional band is part of the United States Air Force Band. Then, join historians and experts in a discussion of all things Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Special guest will be Al Gray the son of Jerry Gray, one of Glenn’s greatest arrangers.
Concerts run all day long starting with the Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Big Band. Musicians from across the country recreate the magic of Glenn’s Chesterfield Radio Show. Relive the excitement of the live radio broadcast and enjoy great Miller tunes. A special feature of this concert is the performance of our vocalist and instrumental winners from the Glenn Miller Scholarship.
In addition, attendees enjoy “The Glenn Miller Experience”, highlights Glenn Miller’s musical history through a moving mix of movies, photos, and live music. Enjoy scenes from the Glenn Miller movies: Sun Valley Serenade, Orchestra Wives, and The Glenn Miller Story as well as home movies from several of the original Glenn Miller members while the Tom Daugherty Orchestra performs classic and lesser known Glenn Miller songs. See Glenn and his orchestra on the big screen while you are serenaded by his timeless music!
One of the highlight’s of the 2016 event is the sound of Glenn’s AAF Band, live. The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Des Moines Symphony unite to recreate the wonderful sound of Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. This is a rare opportunity to hear the sound Glenn created that many feel was the greatest Big Band ever.
Another part of the festivities includes a presentation by Dennis Spragg of the Glenn Miller Archives, who offers an entertaining look at the role of Big Band Music in World War II. Through slides, music, and film footage, Dennis explores the impact of Big Band music on popular culture and its morale boosting ability in the armed forces.
Attendees enjoy hearing the Tom Daugherty Orchestra perform Glenn Miller On The Air: Live From The Cafe Rouge, as they recreate the sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra on the radio with the Chesterfield Broadcasts. The show features those great Miller hit songs and many arrangements only heard on the radio. The show also includes 1940’s style commercials and war announcements. The whole “Miller gang” will be recreated with Glenn, Marion, Ray, Tex, and the Modernairs.
The Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum is open throughout the festival for touring.