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Osiris Shrine Brings Big Band Sounds to Wheeling

The Glenn Miller Orchestra

WHEELING — Dancers who are “In the Mood” for a “Moonlight Serenade” don’t have to take the “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” to hear the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra this Labor Day Weekend — they can just drive to the Osiris Shrine in Elm Grove.

The legendary band is back in full swing after having to cancel most of its performances at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and will play for the first dance of the Big Band 200 Club’s 2021-22 season at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.

Club President David Demarest pointed out that it is one of only five dances the band has scheduled between now and the end of the year, although the band has a full schedule of concerts.

“This is likely the smallest venue they will play this season, so it is a unique opportunity to experience the GMO close-up,” he noted.

Demarest said this performance is a gift to the local dancing community by longtime 200 Club member Jan Reiter in memory of her husband and dance partner, Richard, who died in August of 2019.

The Glenn Miller dance is included with every 200 Club membership purchased for the 2021-22 season, although a limited number of tickets for only the Glenn Miller dance will be made available to the general public for $50 per person.

A five-dance membership is $85, and also includes dances with the Wally Merriman Trio on Dec. 4, ballroom and swing disc jockey Ross Denman on March 12, 2022, the Wally Gingers Orchestra on May 14, and Wally Merriman and his accordion on June 18.

All dances will be held at the Osiris Shrine except for the June dance, which will be at the Hess Shelter at Oglebay and will include a covered-dish picnic.

More information on tickets for the Glenn Miller dance or subscriptions for the season may be obtained by visiting the club’s Facebook page or by calling Demarest at 304-280-3206. All the dances other than the picnic are formal-optional — formal wear is “admired, but not required,” but women must wear dresses and men must wear coats and ties.

A decision about whether to require dancers to wear masks will be made closer to the date of the dance, and will be based upon state and local guidelines.

Glenn Miller formed his first band in 1937, but it was a financial failure. He launched his second band the next year, changing the sound and pushing Tommy Dorsey out of the “Best Sweet Band” position in the Downbeat magazine poll. His recordings of “In The Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “A String of Pearls,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Tuxedo Junction” were all major hit records.

Miller played to sellout crowds, and his music constantly dominated the airwaves.

In September 1942, after volunteering for the army, he disbanded his famous orchestra and eventually formed the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band to entertain servicemen. He and the plane he was in were lost over the English Channel in December of 1944.

The Miller Estate formed the present Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1956 following strong popular demand created by the successful motion picture “The Glenn Miller Story,” starring James Stewart and June Allyson.

Now, more than 60 years since the public first embraced the unique Miller Sound, both the legend and the music live on under the musical direction of Nick Hilscher. The Glenn Miller Orchestra is the most sought-after big band in the world today for both concert and dance engagements. Still considered by many to be the greatest band of all time, it has maintained its unique sound. With the exception of the pandemic, the band has been touring consistently since, playing an average of 300 live dates a year around the globe to millions of fans.

Speaking for the 200 Club board of directors, Demarest said,”We are excited and honored and grateful to be able to offer this opportunity to the local community to spend an evening dancing to the best-known band in the world.”

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