For 43 years musicians and music lovers alike from all over the world have converged on Clarinda (pop. 5,500) to celebrate the city’s famous son: bandleader, trombonist, and composer Glenn Miller. This year the 43rd Annual Glenn Miller Festival will take place on Thursday, June 7 - Sunday, June 10, and includes concerts (both free and fee required), displays, presentations, a scholarship competition, a picnic, a Swing dance, museum tours, and (believe it or not) even more.
The festivities kick-off on Thursday with a Scholarship Competition in which $12,000 in scholarships are awarded annually to high school seniors and college freshmen instrumentalists and vocalists. This is followed by a picnic on the High School commons and a free concert on the town square by the Nebraska Brass Band, a British-style brass band based in Omaha.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday feature concerts by a diverse group of entertainers including:
- The Canadian Brass, a world-renowned brass quintet (Sat. 4:00 pm).
- The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, (Fri. 7:30 pm and Sat. 8:00 pm (dance)).
- Bill Baker's Big Band, from the Netherlands (Fri. 3:15 pm, Sat. 7:00 am (breakfast), Sun. 7:30 pm).
- Tamana Girls High School Band from Japan, making their 13th appearance at the festival (Fri. 1:00 pm, Sat. 10:00 am, Sun. 1:30 pm).
- Adam Swanson, four-time champion ragtime piano performer (Sat. 1:15 pm).
- Key of Steam, Steampunk music inspired by 19th century steam powered machinery (Sat. 6:30 pm).
Many of the concerts are held in the High School Auditorium, but for specific locations consult the complete festival schedule.
Last year I attended just three concerts during the festival, but I was blown away by the world class sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, as demonstrated by this video I made of one of their signature tunes (read about my experience here):
There is an online ticket order form which may be printed and mailed in, or you may take a chance and purchase tickets at the door. Last year I had no problem purchasing tickets at the door for some of the Saturday and Sunday concerts, but you might want to call or email before you travel to ensure tickets are still available (712-542-2461; Shari@glennmiller.org).
Between concerts, don't miss visiting the Glenn Miller Museum and the home where the famous musician was born and lived his first years. I toured both of these during last year's festival and enjoyed viewing the many displays, including instruments, uniforms, gold records, and a film you may watch in the museum (see Jim Schneider's excellent Travel Iowa blog post from last year for a description of the museum).
Whether your favorite music is jazz, Swing, Big Band, or ragtime, or you just enjoy uncovering some of the history to be discovered in one of Iowa's small towns, you'll find something of interest at this festival. I'll see you there!