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Release: Dec. 3, 1999

Hancher Millennium Eve party celebrates an Iowa musical legend

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Millennium Eve at the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will celebrate an Iowa musical legend, Glenn Miller, in festivities beginning at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31. Hancher's "Swing into the Millennium" will feature dancing on the Hancher Stage to the Glenn Miller Orchestra with champagne toasts, hors d'oeuvres and desserts in the lobby, and it will culminate with a fireworks display just after midnight to greet the year 2000.

Audience members may view the fireworks from the Hancher lobby and Hancher Cafe to the accompaniment of a custom-made CD of music chosen for its connections with Hancher history -- including selections from Kodo, 'Les Miz' and Yo-Yo Ma.

Party-goers are encouraged to attend in "black tie" or in any costume suitable to the millennium dawn of their choice. But any attire, from the most formal to the most casual, is welcome.

"We're delighted to host a spectacular millennium eve party with a distinctive Iowa flavor," Hancher director Wally Chappell says. "Not only that, but swing music is a nostalgic New Year's Eve memory for many of us. The atmosphere of a swing-band 'Auld Lange Syne' is an indelible part of the New Year's Eve tradition in America, and we hope to recapture some of that atmosphere with a contemporary flair to fit the turn of the new millennium."

Glenn Miller, who was born in Clarinda, formed his first Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1937. At the height of his popularity -- fueled by runaway hits including "In the Mood," "Moonlight Serenade" and "Tuxedo Junction" -- Miller disbanded his ensemble to volunteer for the military in the depths of World War II. Miller died in December 1944, when his airplane crashed in the English Channel while he was on the way to entertain American troops in France.

In 1941, Miller's band released more hit records than any artist in the history of the recording industry, including "A String of Pearls" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo," and the Glenn Miller Orchestra received the first Gold Record ever awarded.

The Glenn Miller Estate formed the current touring Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1956, following the box office success of the film "The Glenn Miller Story," starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson. The band has toured consistently ever since, averaging 300 dates each year around the globe and becoming the longest lived and most in-demand Big Band in history.

The 19-member band, now under the direction of trombonist Larry O'Brien, still plays the original Glenn Miller arrangements, augmented by newer tunes suited to the Glenn Miller style. The band's repertoire now includes more than 1,700 compositions, epitomizing the sound of swing.

In addition to celebrating the turn of the millennium (or, depending on how you calculate, the beginning of the party marking the millennium's final year) Hancher's Millennium Eve also marks the midway point in Hancher's Millennium Festival, the nation's most ambitious and extensive performing-arts millennium celebration.

Hancher's season-spanning Millennium Festival features 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions receiving their world or American premieres in Hancher.

New works have been created -- or are being created -- by theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Bill T. Jones; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, and UI alumnus David Lang.

Performances of the commissioned works feature prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.

A major fund-raising effort is being conducted to support the Millennium Festival. For additional information about the Millennium Festival Fund, contact Victor Mashburn at the University of Iowa Foundation, 319-335-3305.

Public tickets to Hancher's Millennium Eve are $200 from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. The box office will be closed Dec. 19-26, but will re-open on Monday, Dec. 27, for Millennium Eve ticket sales.

From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance from outside the Iowa City local-calling area is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, Learn more about the Glenn Miller Orchestra at

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Requests for Glenn Miller Orchestra advance interviews should be directed to Charles DeStefano at 407-585-2020. The band is only in the country for three days before their arrival in Iowa City -- Dec. 12-14 -- so if you intend to do an interview, you should contact DeStefano immediately.)