Grand Night showcases American songbook through Vegas theme
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 23:03
The Miami University music department is unveiling “A Grand Night in Vegas” this Friday and Saturday to showcase its talented student performers as they pay tribute to the glamorous era that brought us entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Currently in its fourth year at Miami, Grand Night is known for its extravagant performances, and will be featuring musicians from outside of the Miami community.
This year’s concert features the 10-piece ensemble Cincy Brass as well as two professional soloists, Michele Gingras on clarinet and Tedrin Lindsay on piano. The concert itself is a tribute to the great American songbook of the pre-1960s music of theater and the composers and lyricists that defined the times with their optimistic music, featuring selections from big names such as Fred Astaire, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald.
Miami music professor Ben Smolder is very excited for the upcoming performance, which students have been preparing for since January.
“This music is quintessentially American, it’s our greatest national export,” Smolder said, who serves as music director and conductor for the show. “This event is meant for a great audience, especially our students. It’s important to support the legacy of the American song.”
Smolder expressed the importance of the education in the arts and how they inspire new ideas through creative thought. He also maintained that understanding art is key to understanding culture.
“I hope students come out to support their colleagues and share in this event,” Smolder said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
In addition to the passion of the staff behind this production, the students are also eager to perform. Junior Chrissy Migielicz, a three-year veteran of the show, expressed her excitement for the show.
“Grand Night is so much fun,” Migielicz said. “With all of the singing, dancing and props it’s almost like musical theater. It’s also fun to perform with the people that also study music. They push all of us to perform at their level.”
In comparison to the Grand Night performances of past years, this show brings even more excitement to the stage. With a focus on Miami students accented by guest performers, the talent of Miami’s music department will truly be on display under the bright Vegas lights. With songs that all ages can recognize and appreciate, the concert holds something special for everyone.
“This show has a variety of jazz, big band standards and even some musical theater pieces,” Migielicz said. “It’s full of large ensemble numbers, soloists, as well as dance and instrumental features. This show brings performers together from all over Miami’s campus through our love for music, performance and entertaining an audience.”
With this year’s Grand Night being the fourth installment, it has undergone many changes. Senior Branden Baribeau, an original cast member of the first Grand Night, described the concert’s progression to a “professional-level show.”
“After four years of performing, we’ve figured out what works and created a well-oiled machine,” Baribeau said. “This Grand Night is going to be the best that it’s ever been.”
With a cast of incredibly talented dancers, jazz ensembles and singers, there will moments where the audience laughs and moments where they will be moved to tears, all tied together by the flashy and extravagant performances of an era gone by.
“We don’t usually get to appreciate this great American music, and it’s such an amazing experience,” Baribeau said. “I’ve learned a lot about leadership and teaching, even more than in some of my classes.”
A Grand Night in Vegas will take place 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Hall Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults and are available through the Shriver Box Office and the Grand Night cast.