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Juneau Symphony Pops Concert to feature Thunder Mountain Big Band

Posted: June 6, 2012 - 11:03pm

On Saturday, the Juneau Symphony and the Thunder Mountain Big Band will fill the JDHS auditorium with the music of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington at the symphony’s 2012 Pops Concert. The big band will play as part of the symphony ensemble and on their own throughout the evening. Sixty local musicians will be on stage during the concert, plus visiting musicians from Fairbanks, Anchorage, Skagway and Washington, all under the direction of conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett and big band leader Ron Maas.

The Thunder Mountain Big Band is composed of 18 musicians, who play instruments including clarinet, sax, trumpet, trombone, percussion, string bass and piano. They play a wide variety of favorites, including swing, jazz, Latin and waltzes. The band has been together for at least 10 years and followed the Mel Flood Big Band. Leader Ron Maas grew up with big bands in Wisconsin, and played in the Air Force Band in Washington D.C. After military service he joined the Clyde Lee Big Band and other bands that traveled from town to town in “midnight buses.” Maas then led a quintet, and decided to drive them up to Alaska, strapping the string bass to the top of a Cadillac. They arrived in Alaska in 1960, just after Statehood.

The Juneau Symphony has been playing annual pops concerts since 2001. The program this year will be all American jazz including: “American in Paris” by George Gershwin, “Night Creature” and “Grand Slam Jam” by Duke Ellington, plus several shorter jazz pieces and solo performances by the Thunder Mountain Big Band. The full program can be found online at www.juneausymphony.org.

Tickets are on sale now at Hearthside Books, the JACC and online. All tickets will have reserved seats. Door tickets will be available for $2 extra. Pay-as-you-can tickets will also be available at the door for certain sections of the auditorium. Pay-as-you-can tickets can be purchased at the regular ticket sales table just outside the auditorium. Door tickets will go on sale at 7:15 p.m. Performance begins at 8 p.m. and will last about two hours. Instead of a pre-concert lecture, conductor Pickett will introduce pieces to the audience throughout the performance.

The Juneau Symphony’s 2012 raffle drawing will take place immediately after the concert in the JDHS Commons. Raffle tickets will be on sale until the end of intermission. Raffle prizes this year include a seven-day Royal Caribbean cruise, two round-trip Alaska Airlines tickets, a glacier trek for two from Northstar Trekking, a weekend trip to Gustavus and the Homestead B&B, spa treatments at Rejuvenations, an overnight package for two at Pearson’s Pond, an Eaglecrest ski pass and a Mount Roberts tram pass.

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