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A Swingin’ Orchestra: In the Mood will join The Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey for a night of big band music

By Anthony Stoeckert
ALSO INSIDE: American Repertory Ballet brings ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to McCarter, Your guide to theater, concerts, art and more, The Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey is ending its 2016-17 season not with Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, but with Miller, Dorsey, and Goodman., Trenton will be swinging when the philharmonic joins forces with In the Mood for a concert on April 22 at thePatriots Theater at the War Memorial. In the Mood has been performing big band and swing music from the1930s and ’40s for more than 20 years, but this concert will mark its first collaboration with an orchestra., “This is our premiere performance of In the Mood with a symphony orchestra,” says Bud Forrest, In the Mood‘s music director and pianist. “We’re very excited about this next level of In the Mood. I had this idea of putting together this whole show and combining it with a symphony orchestra, which we hope to continue around thecountry.”, The collaboration came about after In the Mood performed at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, a few years ago. Marlon Evans, an arranger and composer, came to see the show. Mr. Evans has worked with such legends as Judy Garland and Perry Como, and worked on “Cheek to Cheek,” the 2014 album by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Evans helped work on orchestrations of the big band music for an orchestra. He also knew some people involved with the Capital Philharmonic and arranged for the orchestra to rehearse with In the Mood., “What they needed was an orchestra to work with,” says Daniel Spalding, music director for the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic. “Their proposal was that they needed to rehearse with all the new arrangements to make sure they all work, and they needed an orchestra to do that. So we volunteered our orchestra to work with them, and in return they’re doing the show with us.”, “It’s a team effort and we’re thrilled to be playing this performance with the symphony,” Forrest says. “It will be a win-win for everybody.”, The evening promises to make big band music even bigger., “We have 13 musicians and six singers and dancers,” Forrest says. “Now we’re going to have another 50 musicians with us on stage. So just the sound alone, adding the violins and the bassoons and the harps and the symphony will be bigger. As Marlon Evans would say, ‘We’ve now recreated the MGM Studio Orchestra.'”, In the Mood got its start in Washington D.C. in 1988, when Forrest wanted to put a singing group together., “I focused on the music of the Andrews Sisters,” he says. “I just find their talents and their energy and their style to be something really wonderful, as the world knows 80 million records later. There’s no way we could recreate the Andrews Sisters, but I took three young ladies, put some music together and we started performing in and around the Washington D.C. area. It was met with pretty good success, so over the next five years, I added a nine-piece band, then it grew to 12 musicians.”, In 1993, In the Mood performed in front of 5,000 people in Washington D.C. during a concert commemorating World War II. In the Mood starting touring the next year., “My goal was to give audiences a flavor of what it must have been like to hear not just one big band but thedifferent styles,” Forrest says. “What would Duke Ellington have sounded like coming to Trenton in 1940? Or Tommy Dorsey or Artie Shaw or the Andrews Sisters? And I wanted to give audiences that flavor with our choreography, our costumes and our band, our swing dancers.” He describes it as a variety show that illustrates how this music was experienced during its heyday., Among the many songs the group performs are “Well Git It!” made famous by Tommy Dorsey; the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Things,” and of course, Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” Forrest says the show isn’t flashy and doesn’t incorporate contemporary touches., “I wanted to keep it as simple as possible because it was all about the music,” he says. “There’s no story per se, although one of our singers acts as sort of a host or narrator to tie things together. But other than that, it’s 99 percent music — the feeling, the emotions, we make people laugh, cry, it’s a whole gamut of what these songs trigger.”, He adds that it’s drawing people of all ages — folks who lived during the era, their children, and young kids who are into swing dancing., “They just love this, this is not just for (older) people, it’s a family show for kids from 8 to 98,” Forrest says., Spalding will conduct the orchestra during the concert, and it’s a night he says he’s looking forward to., “It’s a great concept, and it’s going to be a great show,” Spalding says. “It’s not the usual thing that the Capital Philharmonic can do because we have so few concerts. Other orchestras have pops concerts all the time. People who love classical music are going to love this.”, In the Mood and the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic will perform at the War Memorial Patriots Theater, 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, April 22, 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30-$65; www.capitalphilharmonic.org215-893-1999.,  

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