published Friday, February 11th, 2011

A Valentine's trip to the past

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    Kick up your heels at CSO's "Big Band Fever" this weekend at the Tivoli Theatre.

Call it "something old, something new."

This year, visitors to the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's annual "Big Band Fever" performance will be invited to live-tweet the event, according to music director and conductor Robert Bernhardt, and selected tweets will be displayed on a screen at the Tivoli as the music plays.

"Anybody who doesn't say 'Bob Bernhardt is a [dope], they will put up on the screen," Bernhardt said, good-naturedly. "We thought we'd try it as an experiment. It's the most intergenerational [event] we do, and we thought this would be a nice time to try it."

Also appearing on a screen will be Bernhardt's own introductions to each piece -- a sort of big-band pop-up video, if you will.

The annual concert, performed each year on Valentine's weekend, features a 16-piece band and leaves more than half the floor clear for anyone who wants to come up and dance.

"All the music is for dancing," Bernhardt said. "It's music that dares you to sit still. [Big-band music] is one of the great American inventions."

The timing, though traditional, is not necessarily motivated by the Valentine spirit, he added, but brings fond memories for some of the older patrons for whom the sounds of Glenn Miller, Bennie Goodman, Duke Ellington and Count Basie were courtship songs.

Selections will include "Mack the Knife," "Bandstand Boogie," "Prelude to a Kiss," "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Manteca" and "Skylark."

As is tradition under Bernhardt's baton, the evening will begin with Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and end with a local favorite.

"It's the world's worst-kept secret," Bernhardt noted.

A hint: The song has something to do with a train, and it's not Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train," which gives Bernhardt the opportunity to show off his penchant for bad puns. "If you're from Canada," he announced to the 2009 "Big Band Fever" audience, "the song is called 'Take a Train, Eh?'"

Contact Holly Leber at or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at


* What: CSO's "Big Band Fever."

* When: 8 p.m. today and Saturday.

* Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* Admission: $18-$78.

* Phone: 267-8583.

* Website:

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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