Big-band sound to benefit Riverview seniors
By Julie Martin
Published: Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
An elegant evening is in store for those who venture out March 1 under the “Motown Moon” for a Riverview Community Action Corporation fundraiser.
The event will feature the sounds of the Pittsburgh Doo Wop Big Band, a 17-piece group made up of musicians from around Pittsburgh. The night will surely hit a high note for many, thanks to an engaging atmosphere, a delectable menu and ample opportunity for dancing.
“Our audiences can expect to have fun,” says Deb Weible, the band's drummer. “We like to see everyone up on their feet and dancing to the sounds of the Pittsburgh Doo Wop Big Band. Nothing is more powerful and exhilarating than your favorite oldies tunes played by a 17-piece big band.”
The fundraising concert and dinner will be at Futules Harmar House. A buffet-style dinner catered by Harmar House will feature chicken marsala, fish, pasta, potatoes, vegetables and dessert.
Event proceeds help the Riverview Community Action Corporation provide programs for seniors throughout the region. The group also offers rides to seniors in the Oakmont and Verona area, and a food pantry.
In its fifth year, the concert is one of the organization's favorite fundraisers, according to Lynn Verratti, who — along with the rest of the center's staff, including Elaine Pruitt and director Stefanie Woolford — is organizing the event.
“There's nothing like live music, which you don't see very often anymore,” she says, adding that Futules Harmar House couldn't be a better venue for the band.
“The acoustics are great. The band really likes the acoustics. The way it's set up, it's really nice.”
Members of the band are passionate about bringing live music to their audience.
“We really want to share the experience of a live big band,” Weible says. “Nothing is better than live music. It's moving and powerful — especially when expertly arranged charts are played by 17 talented musicians.”
Among those playing a wide selection of doo-wop and pop are music professionals, many from the Pittsburgh Musicians Union Local 60-471.
The band — which, depending on its repertoire, goes by either the Pittsburgh Doo Wop Big Band or the Tuesday Night Big Band (during jazz performances) — plays mostly original arrangements by conductors Joe Campus and Rich Mansfield.
If Campus and Mansfield sound familiar, don't be surprised.
“Joe Campus is a well-known and respected jazz arranger who retired after teaching for 30 years in the Clairton School District,” Weible says. “Joe has arranged music for the University of Pittsburgh bands, River City Brass Band and noted tenor Enzo Stuardi.”
“Most people will recognize Rich Mansfield as the arranger and director of the nationally syndicated PBS ‘American Soundtrack Series' prominently aired on PBS over the last several years,” Weible says.
“Rich has taken popular tunes from the '50s, '60s and '70s and arranged them for our 17-piece big band.”
Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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