The Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center’s National Series begins Saturday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m. with A Cavalcade of Big Bands featuring the Dick Strauss Many Happy Returns Orchestra. Sponsored by Ken and Marge Bukowski, the show takes audiences back in time with the stories, swingin’ sounds and top bands of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
The celebration of Big Band swing and jazz features 18 veteran orchestra members performing sentimental favorites from some of the era’s best artists: Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Les Brown, Xavier Cugat, Guy Lombardo, Harry James, Stan Kenton and more! A Cavalcade of Big Bands will also showcase the Radio Rosies performing Andrews Sisters and McGuire Sisters hits and Valery Sarno performing the best of Ella Fitzgerald.
We got to ask Dick Strauss some questions about Big Band and his history as a performer. Take a look at what he had to say!
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
A: My father and mother were both in show business during WWII. I was able to pick out a tune on piano at 5 years old and started lessons at 7 years old.
Q: How would you describe Big Band music to someone who’s never heard it before?
A: It is so full and plush with rhythm, brass and reeds answering each other in the most beautiful sounds and dynamics.
Q: What has been the most unique or memorable event or venue at which you’ve performed?
A: I think the 21 consecutive years we were in the “Great Circus Parade” (1985 to 2006) riding on a circus wagon with 15 musicians playing and being pulled by 8 Belgian Draft horses and throngs of people on both sides of streets.
Q: What type of music do you find yourself listening to when you’re not performing? Is there any new, young artist who has caught your ear?
A: Not of late. I listen to mostly oldies of not only Big Band, but I enjoy 50’s/60’s artists as well. The lyrics are and always were so romantic and told love stories. That’s not done today. I also enjoy symphony music from Bach, Beethoven, etc. Very rewarding to the ear.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as a band leader?
A: When we were selected to play for President Ronald Reagan in November 1988 at the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency Hotel when he campaigned for a Senator from Wisconsin as well as the last couple of years producing shows for Marcus Theater P.F.A Ctr., Vogel Hall, and Skylight Theatre.
A Cavalcade of Big Bands is a Schneider Foundation Limelight Fundraising Event, offering savory canapés in the lobby and great opportunities to support the performing arts, including naming a seat in the theatre!
Tickets to A Cavalcade of Big Bands start at $39, with subscriber and group discounts available. To purchase tickets or learn more about this or other upcoming events, visit ashwaubenonpac.org or call (920) 494-3401.