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Big Band to offer post-holiday entertainment

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By Special to the Monitor

So what can you do in Los Alamos once Christmas is over? Why not bring a friend to a Big Band dance?

On Dec. 28, the Los Alamos Big Band will entertain the community during its annual Big Band after Christmas Dance in Los Alamos.

The dance is open to the public and will    begin from 7:30 – 10:30 p.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Hall.

Proceeds will help fund the IHM youth group.

Music will feature the Los Alamos Big Band and vocalist Elisa Enriquez.

The Los       Alamos Big Band has played at dances throughout Northern New Mexico since 1984 under the direction of Jan McDonald, who for many years was the bandleader at Los Alamos High School.

The band features the danceable music of the Big Band Era such as “In The Mood,” “String of Pearls,” “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Moonlight Serenade.”

They also play other danceable music such as “Moon River,” Latin numbers including “Besame Mucho” and even “Rock Around the Clock.”

Several                                                Christmas tunes will be featured at this dance.

The IHM venue provides a large dance floor and good acoustics.

Decorations and refreshments will be provided by the IHM Youth Group.

The Big Band started in 1984 when Dick Souder retired from Chrysler in Michigan and started working at LANL.

Souder headed a Big Band in the Detroit area called “The Executives.” His only regret about coming to New Mexico was that he missed his Big Band.

Skeptics said a semi-professional Big Band could not survive in a small town like Los Alamos, but Dick teamed with Jan McDonald and later Ralph Bennorth to organize the band and start playing at dances throughout Northern New Mexico. Each year the band gives the  “Souder-Bennorth Memorial Scholarship” in memory of Dick and Ralph to a worthy high school student from Los Alamos or Española.

Many of these students have gone on to become professional musicians.

Although half the band members work in Los Alamos, others come from Santa Fe and the Española valley. The band has always had a drum, bass, piano, five trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones who also double on clarinet for the full Big Band sound.

Throughout the years the band has played for numerous dances, county festivals, weddings, LANL events and conventions.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students at the door.