On Friday night, Woolsey Hall will be transported back to the 1940s for a musical taste of wartime spirit.
The Yale Bands, directed by Thomas Duffy, will perform a concert titled “1940s Holiday Re-Enactment: Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band 1944 Radio Show and 1940s All-Women Big Band.” The first half of the two-hour concert will feature the “Rosie’s Riveters Big Band,” an all-female jazz ensemble comprised of students and professional musicians. Following an intermission, the Yale Jazz Ensemble will play big band classics. Radio broadcasts and skits re-created by members of the Yale Precision Marching Band and Yale Concert Band will accompany the music. The concert will also include vocal performances from members of the singing group Red Hot and Blue.
Big bands are a type of jazz ensemble that usually consist of over 10 musicians. These bands originated in the early 1900s and peaked in the middle of the century, when swing became a popular genre.
“This is in the pocket of popular dance-band, big-band music of the 30s and 40s,” said Ethan Dodd ’22, president of the Yale Jazz Ensemble. “Just imagine heavy brass sections, shout choruses between trumpets and saxes and loud bombastic drums.”
The YJE will play 1940s big band swing music, including the songs “In the Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade,” both arranged by Glenn Miller, a pre-eminent big band leader and arranger. Miller was stationed at Yale’s Army Air Force Technical Training Command during World War II.
Duffy explained that Miller was already a well-known radio broadcast big band leader before his time at Yale. While Miller was stationed in New Haven, CBS decided to broadcast six live radio shows from Woolsey Hall. Friday’s concert’s program will reenact these shows.
In addition to big band music, these broadcasts presented radio plays and propaganda.
“These radio shows were designed to entertain, but they also were designed to create morale,” Duffy said.
According to David Zuckerman ’20, president of the Yale Concert Band, members of the Yale Bands will don costumes, perform speaking roles and play live sound effects.
Friday’s concert commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day. In 1994, the Yale Bands presented a similar performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invasion. This program has also been performed three other times.
“This is going to be one fun concert. I cannot wait for it,” Zuckerman said. “We’ve had huge crowds, over 2000 people came to the last one. This is a pretty big deal and the fact that Glenn Miller performed while at Yale is historically awesome. We’re really excited to recreate this performance.”
The concert also commemorates the 50th anniversary of women at Yale College and 150th anniversary of women at Yale University. The “Rosie’s Riveters” will perform holiday music in jazz style to imitate bands in the 1940s. Duffy explained that since so many men were away at war, all-female bands were common in the 1940s. There were over 250 women’s big bands performing all over the United States, some of which were invited to perform for troops in Europe.
Dodd said the YJE has been working hard to emulate the contemporary style. This involves “clipping notes and adding dynamics and nuances that would make it sound more like the original Glenn Miller music.”
Zuckerman mentioned that the concert is special to him not only because of the music, but the history.
“I think what’s unique is the fact that you’re not only going to the concert to listen to music, but you’re also there for the reenactment of the radio show itself, for trying to put yourself back in the 40s when this actually happened,” Zuckerman said. “We’re going to do our best to try to recreate what that was like for the audience.”
Tickets start at $23 for the general public and $15 for students.
Marisol Carty | firstname.lastname@example.org