Nashua Symphony’s Fanfare 2012 features New England Swing ensemble

NASHUA – Without our military, there would be no one to defend our country or our basic freedoms.

There would also be no such thing as New England Swing, the ensemble that will perform at Fanfare 2012, the Nashua Symphony’s upcoming fundraising event on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Nick Adams, the symphony’s director of operations and the manager of New England Swing, used to perform in an Air Force band. As a result, he said he had “a lot of arrangements” for big band music.

Music director and principal conductor Jonathan McPhee had also performed in an Air Force band and was, therefore, familiar with that type of music.

Thanks to this combination of big band experience and the versatility of the symphony’s musicians, “We felt like we could replicate that sort of group with the Nashua Symphony,” Adams said.

Originally known as the Nashua Symphony Big Band, the ensemble debuted in the spring of 2010 at that year’s Fanfare and has since performed locally to rave reviews.

“The reception has been just overwhelmingly positive,” Adams said. “From kids … to patrons well into their 70s, everyone thinks a lot of the group and really enjoys their music.”

This enthusiastic audience response is the reason why New England Swing has played at Fanfare every year since the ensemble’s inception.

“People love the music,” Adams said. “People love to hear it, people love to dance to it. That’s why we continue to use it for this event.”

New England Swing is a traditional big band and, for this event, will be playing music in the style of Glenn Miller. Musically savvy attendees will recognize such standards as “In the Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade.” Those who don’t know these popular songs by name will likely recognize the melodies.

The criteria for this event “is exactly in line with our bread and butter,” Adams said. “Most of our shows are geared toward danceable, toe-tapping tunes, so this is right down our alley.”

The ensemble’s repertoire is determined by several of New England Swing’s lead musicians, along with Adams and McPhee.

McPhee was originally slated to lead the ensemble at Fanfare, but ended up unable to do so because of a scheduling conflict.

“Fanfare was planned at a time which works best for patrons and people in New Hampshire,” said Eric Valliere, the symphony’s executive director. “Unfortunately, the best time for us was a time that Mr. McPhee was already engaged to conduct the Boston Ballet at the Opera House.”

New England Swing will instead be led from within by several of the musicians, with Richard Kelly handling the introduction of songs and similar duties.

“Richard has been leader for the well-known Boston Brass ensemble for many years before returning to Nashua Symphony,” Valliere said. “He regularly plays with the orchestra, as well as New England Swing.”

This evening is of considerable significance to the Nashua Symphony.

“Fanfare is always our most important fundraiser of the season, and this year is no different – we generally earn 15 percent of our annual operating revenue from the event,” Valliere said. “That said, it is more important this year because the Nashua Symphony Association has some exciting initiatives in the works – from an expansion of our educational programs to an extension of our performance schedule – and we will only be able to pursue those if this event meets, or exceeds, our expectations.

“Fanfare 2011 was the most successful we’ve ever had, and we’re hopeful that our supporters will continue this trend so we can sustain the high level of our programming.”

Cash donations made that evening will be used to support the symphony’s educational programming in public schools. Funds raised from ticket sales and from the live and silent auctions will go toward general operating expenses.

Community engagement coordinator Jessica Brown said there are some spectacular items up for auction that were donated by patrons and local businesses. These include a weeklong African photo safari for two and a week’s stay in a Tuscan villa in Manciano, Italy.

“We’ve had this before,” Brown said of the trip to Italy, describing the winners as “blown away” by the experience.

Also up for auction are trips to Florida, Boston Ballet tickets with a backstage tour hosted by McPhee, local plumbing and heating services, Boston Red Sox and New England Revolution tickets, restaurant gift certificates, and gas cards.

“There’s something for everyone to bid on,” Brown said.

With Fanfare taking place just a few days before Valentine’s Day, organizers hope the event’s combination of dinner, live music, dancing, and live and silent auctions in support of the Nashua Symphony will be a draw.

“It’s a really good cause,” Brown said. “It’s a really, really fun night overall.”

Teresa Santoski can be reached at 594-6466 or tsantoski@nashuatelegraph.com.