February 27, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland, Ore. … Associate Conductor Norman Leyden ends his 34-year tenure with the Oregon Symphony as he and his Big Band swing the house in a Bank of America Pops Concert marking the 100th birthday of renowned Big Band leader Glenn Miller on March 27, 28 and 29 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Vocalists Rod Lucich and Reneé Cleland and Dance West from the Beaverton Arts & Communication Magnet Academy will be featured. An added performance is scheduled for March 30 at Salem’s Smith Auditorium. The Oregon Symphony does not perform. Media support provided by Oregon Business Magazine and KEX.
These performances are Leyden’s last with the Symphony in his current position as Associate Conductor; during the performances he will be honored with the lifetime appointment of Associate Conductor Laureate. “Lifetime titles are rare in this business and are only offered when a conductor’s tenure has had a transformational impact on the development of an orchestra,” said Symphony Interim President Duane McDougall. “Norman certainly qualifies. There is no question that he has had an immeasurable impact on the Symphony organization over the years.” Members of the audience are invited to say good-bye to Leyden at a post-concert reception following each performance.
These special performances of Miller’s music arranged by Leyden bring him back to his professional musical beginnings. During WWII, Leyden became an arranger for Miller’s renowned Air Force Band in Europe. When the Glenn Miller Orchestra was reorganized in 1946, Leyden became its chief arranger. In over 60 years as a professional musician, Norman Leyden has conducted, arranged, composed and played music of every kind in both the classical and popular fields. In 1970 he founded the Symphony’s Pops series, bringing Big Band and Broadway into the concert hall with great success. He also inaugurated the popular Symphony Sundays series, now called Sundays at Two, which features family-oriented classical programs and Symphony musicians as soloists. “For the past thirty-four years I’ve had a dream job, working with my wonderful colleagues of the Oregon Symphony, the Leyden Singers and our soloists, to bring the best in popular music to those who have made our Pops series such a success,” said Leyden.
The program features Miller’s most famous hits, including “In the Mood,” “A String of Pearls,” “American Patrol,” Chattanooga Choo-choo,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Little Brown Jug,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Serenade in Blue,” “Perfidia,” “Tuxedo Junction” and a Big Band arrangement of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” among others. Throughout the evening, Leyden and the band will be joined by local favorites Lucich and Cleland singing some of Miller’s best known songs. In addition, the student dancers from Dance West, under the direction and choreography of Julane Stites, will add their swinging moves to several show-stopping numbers. Dance West, a specialized program housed at Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, (ACMA), in Beaverton School District, is a pre-professional training ground for students who desire in-depth technical study and performance experience.
Performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 27 at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 28 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Monday, March 29 at 8 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, with an additional performance on Tuesday, March 30 at Willamette University’s Smith Auditorium in Salem. Tickets range in price from $25 to $68 and may be purchased at the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office (923 S.W. Washington), Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or charged by phone at 503-228-1353 or (800) 228-7343. Tickets also may be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets (503-790-ARTS) or through Ticketmaster Online, via the Symphony’s Web site at www.orsymphony.org. Service fees may apply.
In 1970 Leyden initiated the Symphony’s Pops series, one of the most successful programs of its kind in the nation. Leyden also founded the popular family-oriented Symphony Sunday programs, which feature Oregon Symphony players and Northwest artists as soloists. In addition he served as music director of the Seattle Symphony Pops for 18 years.
Leyden is in demand as a guest conductor throughout the country. To date he has conducted more than 40 leading American symphonies including the Boston Pops, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, San Diego Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, National Symphony and the Utah Symphony. His European guest engagements have included performances in Norway, Holland and Austria.
In over 60 years as a professional musician, Norman Leyden has conducted, arranged, composed and played music of every kind in both the classical and popular fields. A graduate of Yale University in 1938, he later earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Columbia University, where he also taught for several years.
Leyden’s first professional work was as bass clarinetist with the New Haven Symphony during his college days. After graduation he spent five years in military service, during which he conducted the Army Air Force show “Winged Victory” and served as arranger with Major Glenn Miller’s famous Air Force Band in England and France. When the Glenn Miller Orchestra was reorganized in 1946 under Tex Beneke, Leyden became chief arranger for the group until 1949, when he left to enter the freelance arranging field in New York. Subsequently, as a staff conductor for RCA Victor, he composed and arranged music for many children’s albums, including Walt Disney’s “Cinderella,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Alice in Wonderland.” In the popular music field, he conducted and arranged for many well-known artists including Mitch Miller, Gordon MacRae, Ezio Pinza, Frank Sinatra, Don Cornell, Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan. From 1956 to 1959 he was musical director for Arthur Godfrey.
In 1970, after completing work on his doctorate (his dissertation was a study of the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini), Leyden began his long-standing tenure with the Oregon Symphony.
Throughout the years Leyden has continued to work as an arranger. In fact, Leyden’s library currently holds over 1,200 symphonic arrangements, plus more than 300 Big-Band arrangements and many choral arrangements of music from Broadway shows. Leyden’s continuing work as an arranger is complemented by the assistance of his wife Alice, who has served as copyist and librarian, and their daughter Connie, also a copyist.
Regarded today as one of the foremost authorities on big band music of the swing era, Leyden frequently presents authentically styled programs and advises other orchestras here and abroad on the Big-Band sound. In 1993 Leyden received Oregon’s Governor’s Arts Award, which recognizes leadership and excellence in the arts. A PBS special Glenn Miller program featuring Leyden and the U.S. Air Force Academy Falconaires made its debut on national television in August of 2000.
A dedicated musician, Norman Leyden makes time in his busy schedule to practice the clarinet every day and often adds extra sizzle to his pops and big band programs by performing. Paul Hertelendy of the San Jose Mercury News perhaps described Leyden best when he wrote: “Leyden is a triple threat on the podium: conductor, arranger, and one of those marvelous jazz clarinetists who can bend backward into a perfect C while hitting a few good licks.”
Reneé is a native Oregonian. She is also a former Miss Oregon who represented the State at the Miss America Pageant. Renee was a featured performer in Sylvia’s Dinner Theater production of “Jerry’s Girls.” Most recently she has enjoyed her 14th season as a member of the Leyden Singers who have performed with the Seattle and Oregon Symphony Pops. In her spare time, she enjoys running, weight training, and skiing. She resides in West Linn with her husband and two children.
Rod Lucich is a product of the Pacific Northwest and comes from a very musical family. Rod’s grandfather was an accomplished musician who sold Doc Severinsen his first cornet and got him started playing. Years later, Rod’s mother and uncle performed with Doc during their high school days in the group The Blue Notes.
Rod studied music and performed actively throughout his high school and college years and then moved to Los Angeles where he studied trumpet with renowned player and teacher Claude Gordon. In Los Angeles, Rod worked both instrumentally and vocally, performing a wide variety of music from classical to big band, in both live performance and recordings.
In 1978, Rod returned home to Oregon and began a long association with Norman Leyden. Rod performed with the Leyden Singers for twelve seasons and has been featured as guest soloist with many of the country’s fine orchestras in pops performance. He has been a popular guest for several years during the “Summer Classics” series with the Minnesota Orchestra Pops, as well as repeat performances with the Seattle Symphony, Oregon Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Long Beach Symphony and has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Rod was also the featured vocalist for the 50th Anniversary of the Glenn Miller Festival in 1993 as well as performing the lead in a local production of the Easter musical “Let All Heaven Rejoice” by David Clydesdale.
In addition to keeping active in many other musical projects, Rod takes pride in the giving of his time and musical talents to serve the Law Enforcement Communities all over the state of Oregon. On several occasions, Rod has performed for international delegations of police officers who have visited the City of Portland, as well as performing for President George Bush at the dedication of the Oregon Police Memorial. For many years, Rod has provided Musical Tributes at memorial services throughout the State to recognize police officers who have fallen in the line of duty. Since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Rod has been in demand across the state for patriotic musical performances and has answered the call to help renew our courage in the face of these most difficult times.
Rod has served as a police officer since 1979 and worked as a Police K-9 master for 11 years. Rod was a Trainer for the Portland Police Bureau Canine Unit and also served as a State Trainer until he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1996. Since then, Rod has served as a supervisor for a regional multi-agency task force targeting auto theft and is now currently assigned as a Motor Sergeant with the Police Bureau. His current assignment keeps him extremely busy facilitating special events, from our many Rose Festival functions to Presidential Motorcades.
Rod takes pride in his marriage with his wife Jenny that has spanned over 28 years and produced three wonderful children. He tries to balance a busy schedule by giving priority to his family, yet still trying to accommodate the many requests for his musical performance. When time allows, Rod likes to slip away and enjoy a round of golf.
Dance West, one of many specialized programs housed at Arts and Communication Magnet Academy (ACMA) in the Beaverton School District, is a pre-professional training ground for students who desire in-depth technical study and performance experience. Comprised of 20 students who have auditioned for placement, a daily schedule of core academic study, dance technique classes and a two-hour rehearsal for a repertoire of diverse concert works is required. ACMA recently received a rating of “exceptional” from the Oregon State Schools Report Card. The rigorous arts-infused academic curriculum, taught by professionals with specialization in the field of dance, provides unique opportunities for the students. They experience the kind of education that prepares them with lifetime skills necessary for success in higher education and in their chosen career path.