PORT HENRY - As a child, Matt Pray learned to love the music of Glenn Miller. Now, he hopes to pass that on to a new generation.
The music teacher has arranged to bring to the famed Glenn Miller Orchestra to Moriah Central School Monday, May 10.
"Growing up I had the privilege to listen to all sorts of music," Pray said. "In high school our jazz band played the music of Glenn Miller quite often. It was just plain fun music. I want it to inspire my students and encourage them to listen to all sorts of different genres of music."
The Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform at the Moriah Central School auditorium at 7 p.m. Tickets are $16 and can be obtained from Pray by calling 546-3301 ext. 405.
Opening the show at 6:50 p.m. will be the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra, a professional Big Band repertory ensemble based in Plattsburgh. Pray is its director and many of its members are North Country music teachers.
"I want to show my students that not only do we have world class musicians coming to our area, but that we also have great musicians who live and perform often in our area," Pray said. "The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra will perform a short set while guests arrive and get seated."
Glenn Miller was a famous jazz musician of the World War II era. He disappeared en route to entertain troops in 1944.
The present Glenn Miller Orchestra was formed in 1956 and has been touring consistently since, playing an average of 300 live dates a year.
When Pray learned the orchestra was planning a tour of the Northeast, he decided to see if it would visit Port Henry.
"I realized that this would be a great event for our school and community," Pray said. "There are so many veterans out there that remember Glenn Miller's influence in World War II. Also, many people either remember their parents or grandparents listening to Glenn Miller's music."
The Glenn Miller Orchestra is enthusiastic about the Moriah performance, he said.
"The staff at Glenn Miller Productions has been absolutely the best to work with," the music teacher remarked.
Music students from neighboring schools have been invited to join Moriah students at the performance.
"Hopefully these students will walk away from this concert motivated to continue playing their instruments," Pray said. "These students work hard year-after-year, but very rarely get to see professionals perform. Hopefully they will enjoy it."
Pray believes the performance will create life-long memories.
"A reason I chose to bring this group in is to create an event that students, faculty and community members will remember for years to come," Pray said. "After throwing some ideas around, I also tried to see if I could find an opening act. I really wanted to give everyone their money's worth.
"We have a very nice auditorium here at Moriah, and I was looking to create an event to bring in support from our community and staff," he added. "I am absolutely blown away by how many MCS staff members are coming to this event. This is truly going to be a very special night for everyone. I encourage anyone interested to attend."