Steamboat native returns with renowned Glenn Miller Orchestra
Steamboat Springs — Saxophone player Kenyon Brenner hasn’t performed on the stage of the Steamboat Springs High School auditorium since he graduated in 2007.
On Friday, he returns to that stage having blossomed from a teenager in the jazz band to a professional musician and member of the renowned Glenn Miller Orchestra.
A recent addition to the 16-piece big band that celebrates the classic brass and swing music of the late Glenn Miller, Brenner has played with the band for a little more than four months and is looking forward to the band’s Steamboat Springs performance next week.
“It feels really great,” Brenner said. “I’ve known many other musicians that I’ve had respect for that have been in this band. It’s got a huge history. The music is still enjoyed by so many people, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this group.”
When the Glenn Miller Orchestra takes the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, it will be even more than a homecoming. It’s a chance for Brenner to offer support to the program that helped land him a seat in the Glenn Miller saxophone section.
“I’m really looking forward to showing the other kids in the high school what can happen if you keep playing music,” he said.
The concert is a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs High School band, led by Jim Knapp. It’s no coincidence that Knapp also played in the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the 1990s; Knapp has stayed in touch with the band and saw the June 22 open date as an opportunity to bring the group back to Steamboat.
“This is going to be a really special show,” Knapp said. He said the proceeds will go toward funding a school band trip to California in April, allowing the concert and jazz bands to perform a concert at Disneyland. Aside from a kickoff to their fundraising efforts, Knapp sees the concert as an opportunity to connect the high school students with the possibility of continuing their music careers.
“They get to see that somebody from their hometown, which is a small town, is achieving and is going to be achieving at the highest level,” Knapp said. Brenner is “an exceptional musician, and to see him join the band and get some experience, this is definitely a thing for him that’s going to further his career.”
The orchestra is led by musical director and vocalist Nick Hilscher, who recalls working with Knapp his first year in the orchestra in 1998. Brenner, he said, has been a valuable addition to the band.
“I think Kenyon’s a great musician and a really excellent soloist, and we do feature him as much as possible during our shows,” said Hilscher. “And he’s also a great section player, which is extremely important for a band like the Glenn Miller Orchestra.”
He said to expect original arrangements and vocal renditions of the classic tunes of Glenn Miller, a band leader, musician and composer who started the touring group in the 1930s.
“In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” are Miller classics that the band still plays.
“We’re not a carbon copy of that original band, but we try to do the music as close to the way the original band did it,” Hilscher said. “That original band had a lot of excitement, and I think we present a lot of excitement, as well.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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