Stardusters reunite at Five Nights

News Release Date: 

Marion Harding’s jazz band brings together musicians that span over 50 years for concert

The Ohio State University at Marion Five Nights on Campus series welcomes the Marion Harding Stardusters and the All-Star Reunion Band to the Morrill Hall Auditorium stage, Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.

The Harding Stardusters have been delighting audiences for more than fifty years. Currently under the direction of Rick Baird, this popular Marion Harding High School ensemble performs a wide variety of music ranging from the standards of the Big Band era, to rhythm and blues, modern jazz, and traditional pop.

Joining them for the first time will be the Harding Stardusters All-Star Reunion Band, featuring outstanding former members such as Dave Haldeman, Bob Hinklin, Dan Erickson, and Bill Swihart.

Baird shared that the current group of Stardusters will be doing a mix of traditional big band and more modern original compositions and the reunion group is, of course, doing a lot of “the older stuff.”

“The stuff we have pulled to select from is what most of the audience members would associate with the old standbys, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey’s, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie,” said reunion band member Bill Swihart.

“I hope we can pull off Sing, Sing, Sing,” he added with a chuckle.

Unlike the high school group, who has been together practicing all year, and in the case of the upper classmen, a number of years, the reunion band has to rely on its ability to get the music down on their own and pull it together in a short amount of time.

“We are having one practice the weekend before the Friday gig,” explained Swihart, “then a couple hours before the gig on the (March 11) eleventh.”

Pulling together musicians for a reunion concert that covers the entire history of the group was challenging, in that a majority of former Stardusters hang up their horn, drum sticks, or sax after high school. The key, explained Swihart, was to find as many former Stardusters as possible who have remained active in music, either professionally, semiprofessionally, or those who teach music.

Although, in most cases, Swihart shared, music is more of an avocation than a vocation.

“If you do it well, it’s like a bicycle. You don’t lose it,” he said.

Rick Baird, Director of Bands at Marion Harding High School, will bring their 18 student member ensemble to the stage knowing this is more than learning about the music, it will be a great lesson in history.

“What I like is that this particular reunion group kind of covers 5 decades worth of Stardusters,” said Baird. “My kids get a chance to see that they are part of the history of the group, and they also get to hear some of the older literature that they aren’t currently playing.”

“One thing that is unique for me is that my oldest son is part of the reunion group,” he said.

Baird beamed with pride, “I’ve had six children that have been in the band or are currently in the band.”

This is only the second reunion concert Baird is aware of in recent memory. There was a reunion concert held at the Palace Theatre as part of a benefit concert in memory of former Harding High School student Mandy Kruder.

Tickets for the Harding Stardusters and the Harding Stardusters All-Star Reunion Band performance are available in advance or at the door. Ticket prices are: $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; and $4 for students. Marion campus faculty and staff, which includes all Ohio State Marion and Marion Technical College personnel, are eligible for $8 discounted individual performance tickets.

Five Nights on Campus is a performing arts series designed specifically for the residents of the seven-county regional service area of Ohio State Marion and is intended to complement the other entertainment opportunities which are available in the area.

The 2010-2011 season highlights a variety of musical entertainment styles and groups: Appalachian, a cappella, big band, classical, jazz, pop, and Hispanic music, with the opportunity for the audience to meet with the artists following each performance.

Five Nights on Campus is made possible through the generous support of the following community-minded businesses: ArcelorMittal Marion; ClearChannel Radio; The Herald, Inc.; Frontier Communications; Marion General Hospital; Marion Technical College; The Marion Star; The Ohio State Bank; Whirlpool Corporation; Wyandot, Inc.

Upcoming Five Nights Performance Schedule:

High Street Four
Thursday, April 14, 2011, 7:30 p.m., Morrill Hall Auditorium

El Calido Viento
Thursday, May 12, 2011, 7:30 p.m., Morrill Hall Auditorium