We’re Dreaming of a Jazzy Christmas-Swing for the Holidays!

By Emily Goggins, Kirstynne Hock & Maddy Majewski


Tis the season!

Green Bay’s Jazz Orchestra played its third holiday concert at the Weidner Center on Thursday, December 16 at 6:30 pm. This concert was full of festive songs, as well as had some fun surprises for those that attended.

Facebook Graphic from the Weidner Center’s Facebook Page https://bit.ly/3p6ewZN

Before the concert, Sam Stranz, the Front of House and Event Supervisor and a member of the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra, shared his insights on how the Weidner Center had been preparing for the concert. Stranz stated,” The Weidner Center has been preparing for the Swing for the Holidays concert since I started in August. We’ve been brainstorming ideas, planning for setting up, and coordinating with other campus departments to make sure that Swing for the Holidays will be a unique and exciting experience for our patrons.”
“Before the concert, patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy holiday-themed beverages, socialize with Santa, and mingle with friends and family in the Grand Foyer.” After the pre-concert activities, the concert itself will feature a variety of vocal and instrumental pieces. These include movements from Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker,” a few of Ella Fitzgerald’s swinging holiday arrangements, and some selections from the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s album “In the Christmas Mood.” Stranz said, “There’s something for everyone at Swing for the Holidays!” Diving into Stranz’s personal holiday favorites, he said, “One of my favorite holiday songs is White Christmas by the Drifters.”
Stranz shared, “The holidays for me are a time to take a step back from everyday life and appreciate the people around me that make life worth living. I like spending time celebrating with friends and family, sharing meals (and lots of cookies), and enjoying the winter weather.” Stranz mentioned, “As a member of the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra and a member of the Weidner Center staff, it’s been fun to see this production from both sides. I’m very excited to share a lot of great music with our patrons and make sure that everyone has a great experience from the moment they walk through the front door.”
Adam Gaines has been the director and a member of the Green Bay Jazz Orchestra since 2016 when he founded the orchestra. Gaines plays the trumpet in the orchestra. Gaines said, “The Green Bay Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit organization whose mission is to share jazz, one of the most important arts created in America, with the community, through concerts and educational outreach. The performing orchestra is made up of professional musicians from Green Bay and surrounding areas.” The Green Bay Jazz Orchestra has been around since 2016, and they have been doing Swing for the Holidays since 2018. They did take off in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Swing for the Holidays requires a lot of outside work from each of the 17 members, and they have a two-and-a-half-hour rehearsal on the 15th in the Weidner Center in preparation for the concert the next day.
When asked about what his favorite holiday song to perform is, Gaines said, “Sleigh Ride! I love the Ella Fitzgerald version, which we’ll play this year. We’ll also play the Glenn Miller Orchestra this year. Either way, listen out for the famous horse whinny.” Gaines said, “The chance to play this fun music with some of my favorite musicians and people.” Gaines shared that the holiday season is “a time to reflect on the year, be thankful for friends and family, and slow down and try to enjoy some fun and good cheer.” Swing for the Holidays is a great way to reflect and enjoy the holidays.
The Swing for the Holiday lineup is as follows:Volga Vout” – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn❖”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me War” – Irving Berlin, adapted by Alan Glasscock/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – John Marks, arranged by Frank DeVol/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsWinter Wonderland” – Felix Bernard and Richard Bernard Smith, adapted by Myles Collins/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsLet It Snow” – Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, arranged by Riamantas Giedraitis/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsBlue Christma” – Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsLinus & Luc” – Vince Guaraldi, arranged by Mark TaylorChristmastime is Her” – Vince Guardaldi, arranged by David Pugh
Peanut Brittle Brigade” – Pyotr Brigadech Tchaikovsky, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy StrayhornSugar Rum Cherry” – Pyotr Cherrych Tchaikovsky, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy StrayhornDanse of the Floreadore” – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy StrayhornWintertime” – Norah Jones/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsLast Christmas” – George Michael, arranged by Jesper Riis/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsOh Holy Night” – Adolphe Adam and John Dwight, arranged by Ed Wilson/ Courtney Sherman, vocalsSleigh Ride” – Leroy Anderson, arranged by J. Mitchell Parish and John LaBarbera/ Courtney Sherman, vocals❖”It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Eddie Pola and George Wyle, arranged by Denver Bierman “Jingle Bells” – James Pierpont

One person who attended the show, who preferred to remain anonymous, said they heard about the Swing for the Holidays from a family member. Their favorite song is Oh Holy Night because “it is a family favorite and what they liked from the concert was the rendition of the Nutcracker songs.” They said, “What the holidays mean to them is a time to gather with family and friends. Also remember to be kind to others.”  They really liked the Swing for the holiday concert and wish to attend next year.

Photo of the performance by Emily Goggins.

Those who came out to the concert were entered into a free raffle if they chose to. There were three raffles for three different shows from the Weidner Center. One winner got two tickets for one of the shows coming to the Weidner. These shows were “Brit Floyd,” “Jim Jeffries, and “Weidner Philharmonic – Wizard of Oz.” And who announced the tickets? Santa himself!

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