Swing is King for the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra’s spring concert April 13

Big band sound features greats of ’30s, ’40s

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra is rounding out its fifth season in a big way – a big band way that is.

Don’t be surprised if the audience breaks out jitterbugging to the music of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Hoagy Carmichael and Glenn Miller.

Asked why he selected to conclude the season’s concerts with swing music, Maestro J. Wayne Baughman said the answer is simple.

“I like the music. I rarely conduct any piece of music that I didn’t like. But I love the music of that era. It enjoys tremendous popularity even today. It’s just fun,” Baughman said.

Even young people recognize the music for its quality and longevity.

“Whether it is fast or slow, upbeat or ballads, it’s all great. And people have embraced the old recordings of great band leaders – the Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw. And they remember the great crooners of the day – Frank Sinatra, Vaughn Monroe and Peggy Lee,” he said.

Baughman said he did a program at his church similar to this that ran for three nights. So he decided to give it a go with music arranged for full orchestra. Evidently it was a good choice because with about a week to go, only 100 tickets were left.

Among the standards that will be featured are two by the immortal George Gershwin: “Fascinating Rhythm” and “I Got Rhythm.”

“Dancing in the Dark” by Arthur Schwartz was introduced in 1931’s “The Bandwagon,” and artists as varied as Bruce Springsteen and Lady GaGa continue to cover it to this day.

“Embraceable You,” a particular favorite of Baughman’s, is another one of those songs that has never gone out of style.

“That song has been sung by everybody who is anybody,” he said.

Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and “Mona Lisa” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, two elegantly crafted ballads, are included in the program. The finale is a salute to the big bands with a medley of tunes arranged by Calvin Custer.

“It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Harold Arlen (who wrote the music for 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”) was the theme song of “Paper Moon,” a dark comedy about the Great Depression starring Ryan O’Neal and his daughter Tatum O’Neal.

“This music will never die. It is ageless and will go on as long as people listen to music,” Baughman said.

The JCSO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For information, go to the website at johnscreeksymphony.org.