HUNTINGTON, IN — On Friday, May 5, 2000, Huntington College will host the big band sounds of Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians, with director Al Pierson, at 8 p.m. in the Merillat Centre for the Arts.
Tickets for this gala event are available on a reserved-seating basis, with prices ranging from $9 to $13, with special discounts for students and seniors. For further information call the Merillat Centre Box Office at (260) 359-4261, weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or e-mail email@example.com.
Founded in 1919, the Lombardo Orchestra is the longest running act in show business history, with over 500 hit songs to its credit – more than any other musical organization. Since its first televised New Year’s Eve Party in 1954, the orchestra has played for more than 1½ billion viewers, making a New Year’s traditional symbol out of the Scottish ballad “Auld Lang Syne.”
After the 1977 death of Guy Lombardo, his world-renowned orchestra fell silent for more than a decade. In 1989 the legend was revived as Al Pierson of Big Band U.S.A. was given the opportunity to rejuvenate the styles and musical library of the dormant Lombardo Orchestra.
Born Albert Theodore Pizzamiglio, Pierson began his professional career at the age of 14 and soon earned a position as Guest Conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. After earning his Master Degree in Music Theory and Composition at Illinois State University, he taught music in both the high school and college settings for 15 years before going on the road with his band, Big Band U.S.A., in 1974.
For nearly 15 years, Al Pierson and his Big Band U.S.A. toured the world, playing nearly 300 engagements annually, including 20 international dance tours in Europe, the Orient, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Mexico, Tahiti, Hawaii, and Alaska. Reflecting the styles established by Glenn Miller, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and the Lombardo Orchestra, Pierson’s band was named the “Best New Dance Band in the Country” in 1975. In 1976 he was inducted into the “Ballroom Dancers’ Hall of Fame” by receiving the most recorded votes in the history of Big Band. Then in 1977, Al and his Big Band U.S.A. were acclaimed “America’s Number One Dance Band” by a national survey of ballroom dancers. The most widely recorded big band of today, Big Band U.S.A. has released 15 albums.
Since picking up the Lombardo baton in 1989, Pierson has gained ever greater acclaim through his recreation of Guy’s original band, all the while retaining his own identity.
On New Year’s Eve 1992, Pierson and the Royal Canadians played for a record crowd of 300,000 in Jacksonville, Florida. In December 1994, they performed in two of their own TV specials on PBS stations throughout North America, the second of which was aired on New Year’s Eve – their first television performance in years – thus continuing their tradition as the longest running TV special in history. Following this success, two 13-week Lombardo series’ were then aired in 1997 and 1998.
Today, Al Pierson and the Lombardo Orchestra still treat audiences to wonderful tunes such as Seems Like Old Times, Boo Hoo, Coquette, Sweethearts on Parade, Johnson Rag, Bye Bye Blues, Enjoy Yourself, Time on My Hands, Ain’t She Sweet, and many more. Pierson has shown a dedication to the distinctive and recognizable style and grand tradition that made the Lombardo Orchestra one of the most listened to, talked about, and imitated big bands of all time. He brings “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven” back to the prominence it so richly deserves.
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