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LA Big Band to offer some post-holiday music

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By Special to the Monitor

Think nothing is happening in Los Alamos between Christmas and New Year’s? The Los Alamos Big Band is offering an event to be marked on people’s social calendars.For the ninth straight year, there will be a Big Band Dance at 7:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Hall. Music will feature the Los Alamos Big Band with two vocalists. The special guest soloist will be Michelle Trieste who is visiting Los Alamos from Denver. In addition, Paula Ward will also sing. The Los Alamos Big Band has been playing at dances throughout northern New Mexico since 1984 under the direction of Jan MacDonald, 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 like “Besame Mucho” and even “Rock Around the Clock.”Trieste brings a wealth of experience to the group. She began performing on stage at age 5. She has a strong background in musical theater and has performed professionally in Denver and Kansas City. She also wowed the community when she played the female lead of Annie Oakley in the Los Alamos Light Opera Company’s 2007 production of “Annie Get Your Gun.” Ward is well known in Los Alamos, having been raised here. While growing up, her talents as a vocalist became well known from the numerous roles she played with the Olions, the Los Alamos High School theater group. She has recently begun to sing with the band and her talents have grown and matured.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 the New Mexico was that he missed his Big Band. Souder teamed with Jan MacDonald and later Ralph Bennorth to organize the band and started playing at dances throughout northern New Mexico.Although half the band members work in Los Alamos, others come from Santa Fe and the valley. Many band members have music degrees. Others have technical degrees. The band features trumpets, saxophones, drum, bass, piano, trumpet and trombones.Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students at the door. Proceeds will go toward the Immaculate Heart of Mary youth group’s trip to Australia in 2008. The Big Band will also host a Valentine’s Day concert Feb. 16 and a St. Patrick’s Day concert March 15.For further information, e-mail John Hendricks at jmh102@comcast.net or call 662-1660.