The Bijou Orchestra
"The Bijou Orchestra was established in 2003 to be Bay Countys first professional performing organization. The founders wanted an ensemble unique in the Great Lakes Bay Regions so that community would have an individual artistic identity that would contribute to community self-esteem, enhance educational opportunities in the arts for people of all ages, and support cultural tourism in Bay County. At the same time, their ultimate goal was to create a professional touring orchestra capable of performing on a regional and ultimately, national level.
The thirteen-piece Bijou is modeled on the orchestras found in American theaters in the first part of the 20th century and is the only ensemble of its kind in the country. Their core repertoire is composed of the thousands of arrangements that were created between 1890 and 1935 for use by the pit bands of legit, vaudeville and silent movie theaters across the country. In addition to the classics, there is an immense catalog of American popular music that begins with the marches of Sousa and Pryor, extending through Ragtime, the songs and dances of Tin Pan Alley, and jazz.
Exceptional musicians are required to play this music well. These musicians travel from many places in order to practice this highly difficult musical form. While most of them have extensive professional orchestral experience, such capabilities are only part of what the job requires. Virtually every Bijou concert includes music from the classical, ragtime and early jazz eras, all performed from original orchestrations. Then, depending on the program, players will be asked to perform repertoire appropriate to the theme which means everything from Baroque to Klezmer to Europop and even country. And they do them all well. It is this stylistic versatility coupled with technical virtuosity that makes a successful member of The Bijou."
Crooner Paul King, born in Bay City, Mich., began singing early in life with his father in the church choir and community variety shows. Through his early-life musical studies in piano, saxophone and guitar, and later performances with rock bands while attending Michigan State University, King’s music is always evolving. While living in East Lansing, King continued his musical education in vocal jazz with Sunny Wilkinson, renowned jazz vocal artist and university professor. King’s musical journey continues today with a passion for fine tuning his style, technique and jazz chops, but always with a nod to the swingin’ crooners of big band era. Today, King regularly sings with his swinging and award-winning big band, the Rhythm Society Orchestra (RSO), loved by dancers and swing music fans throughout the Midwest. You can also find King singing with many of Detroit’s best musicians at various jazz venues and supper clubs throughout the Motor City area, including the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, Cliff Bell’s and the London Chop House.