Misery Bay To Present Big Band Concert, Master Class

March 16, 2012 — The Misery Bay Big Band with guest artist Helen Welch will perform at Allegheny College at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, at Shafer Auditorium. The performance is free, but concert-goers are encouraged to give a $5 donation at the door to benefit the Meadville Council on the Arts.

The Misery Bay Big Band represents the best in big band entertainment, with an extensive repertoire from big band to standards, jazz to latin, dance to concert. Helen Welch is a critically acclaimed vocalist whose live stage performances explore a diverse range of musical compositions, starting with the 1930s up through the present day.

Among the 16 to 20 musicians playing with Misery Bay at Allegheny will be Allen Zurcher 
on alto sax, Jeff Gibbens
 on trumpet, Chris Dempsey 
on trombone, Jim Froman on guitar and 
Sonny Froman on drums.

A native of England, Helen Welch is known throughout the United Kingdom for her musical theatre roles and one-woman shows. She has also worked with some of the United Kingdom’s best-known big bands, including Opus One, Glen Miller Europe and the BBC Big Band.

Welch has performed in starring roles in a number of musicals including Hello Dolly!, Barnum, 42nd Street, Oliver Twist, Calamity Jane, Show Boat and Carousel. She also won a competition against 800 other singers for a starring role in the Broadway musical Smokey Joe’s Café.

Welch has guest starred with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She has performed at numerous jazz festivals and music venues, including the Blossom Music Center and the Chautauqua Institution.

“The thing that makes all great performers special is their ability to make what they do seem easy and natural, and it’s anything but,” said Jack Schantz, former artistic director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. “Helen Welch has this attribute and it hides the fact that she has tremendous musicianship — her intonation, phrasing and instincts are spot on. She’s the real deal.”

In addition to the Saturday concert, Allen Zurcher and Chris Dempsey from the Misery Bay Big Band will offer a free master class from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at Allegheny College. Registration for the master class must be made by contacting Ron Stitt at rstitt@allegheny.edu.

The concert and master class are part of the college’s Year of Sustainable Communities, a series of activities, workshops and events aimed at inspiring the campus and community to examine what makes a community sustainable in the richest sense of the word—that is, able to provide a good quality of life to those who live and work there and to be resilient in the face of challenges. The year’s events will explore many facets of quality of life, including healthy food, the arts, economic resilience and care for the environment.

More information on the Year of Sustainable Communities, including a schedule of events, can be found by visiting www.allegheny.edu/events and clicking on the “Year of” tab.