Premier Event – A Night of Timeless Elegance: Sinatra and Friends with Bryan Anthony and Hunter Fuerste’s American Vintage Orchestra

In anticipation of the upcoming “Sinatra and Friends” show on New Year’s Eve, I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Hunter Fuerste, a world-class musician, to delve into his perspective on music, his profound love for the arts, and why Big Band music holds a special place in his heart.

Hunter Fuerste with Guy Lombardo on New Year’s Eve in 1976.

For Hunter Fuerste, music is more than a passion—it’s a legacy deeply ingrained in his family. His journey into the world of music began at an early age, with piano lessons in second grade. In the third grade, he picked up the trombone and immediately recognized its ability to emulate the human voice. From that moment on, he was hooked, never looking back. “Music has been my life,” Hunter emphasized. “I adored Sinatra. Starting with Tommy Dorsey’s phrasing, Sinatra evolved into an iconic performer. I witnessed this transformation and realized that the music of Sinatra and the Rat Pack’s era was a never-ending celebration.”

In 1976, Hunter took a break from his studies at the prestigious North Texas University, choosing to tour with Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians instead. The band’s demanding schedule had them performing seven nights a week, totaling an astounding 350 shows that year. On New Year’s Eve, Guy Lombardo’s Orchestra delivered a captivating 90-minute live show from the illustrious Waldorf Astoria, broadcast to millions of homes on CBS. They shared the stage with other luminaries, including Billy Eckstine and Carol Lawrence, in a grand celebration to ring in 1977. Following the holiday season, Hunter resumed his studies, eventually pursuing a medical career after studying at the University of Iowa Medical School. Throughout it all, he continued to play the trombone, illustrating his unwavering commitment to music.

Hunter’s path would eventually cross with Bryan Anthony, a fellow entertainer whom he met when Bryan was performing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Together, they embarked on a journey to bring the timeless classics of the Sinatra and Rat Pack era to audiences nationwide. While Bryan lent his remarkable vocal talent to the Big Band standards, Hunter’s American Vintage Orchestra provided the exquisite musical backdrop that everyone could connect with.

However, in 1998, the world mourned the loss of Frank Sinatra. Hunter’s deep reverence for Sinatra’s legacy spurred him into action. “I told myself that his music must live on,” Hunter reflected. Over the next two years, he painstakingly crafted arrangements for the American Vintage Orchestra’s inaugural performance, which took place in 2000. The response was overwhelming, and seven years ago, Hunter and Bryan introduced a cherished tradition: the Sinatra New Year’s Eve show at the Grand Theater in Dubuque.

Describing the Grand Opera House as a beautifully restored 1890s theater with impeccable acoustics, Hunter emphasized, “There is not a bad seat in the house.” The goal is simple yet profound: to deliver the music as accurately as possible. Every note, pitch, and intonation matters, but there’s something more, something that transcends music. “It’s challenging to explain, but it’s akin to the Taj Mahal—it’s more than just bricks and mortar,” Hunter mused.

This New Year’s Eve, the Dubuque Arts Council presents “Sinatra and Friends” at 8 pm at the Grand Opera House. This one-night-only event promises to be a tribute to music legends such as Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, and more. Tickets are available by phone at 563-588-1305 or online at TheGrandOperaHouse.com.

Audiences attending the show can anticipate a flawless performance by Bryan Anthony and Hunter Fuerste’s American Vintage Orchestra. The meticulous preparation behind the scenes is truly remarkable. “Candyman,” Sammy Davis Jr.’s iconic hit from the film Willy Wonka, featured a children’s chorus in the hit record. To recreate this magic, Hunter delved into Davis’s Las Vegas performances to find an orchestration that featured a big band to back him up. This unwavering attention to detail transforms “Sinatra and Friends” into a must-see performance, filled with decades of experience and unforgettable stories that promise an extraordinary New Year’s Eve.

Hunter has been a dedicated member of the Dubuque Arts Council’s Board of Directors for an impressive 35 years. Dave Grable, also a Board Member, is the force behind producing the organization’s special events. Dave shared, “The ticket sales from the New Year’s Eve show go a long way in supporting the Dubuque Arts Council’s mission of bringing arts and cultural performances to schools in the tri-state area. Hunter’s unparalleled passion for preserving the Big Band Era, coupled with his generous gift of time and talent, has a profound impact on the lives of local students.”

Part of this year’s New Year’s Eve show involves revealing lesser-known insights about Sinatra and his era. “Sinatra and Friends” will offer an in-depth exploration of the Rat Pack and the circle of iconic entertainers that surrounded them. To provide an even deeper dive into this timeless era, “Rat Pack Confidential” will be hosted at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club on Friday, December 28, from Noon to 1 PM. Here, Hunter and Bryan Anthony will regale audiences with captivating stories from the era while setting the stage with its unforgettable music. Tickets are available for $20 per person, and reservations can be made by calling 563-556-7748.

Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of timeless classics and unforgettable stories. The “Sinatra and Friends” New Year’s Eve show and “Rat Pack Confidential” promise to be the standout events of the year, the luncheon with great story telling leading up to the night of elegance, nostalgia, and unparalleled entertainment. Reserve your seats now for the Rat Pack Confidential luncheon and the New Years Eve performance and prepare to be transported to an era that continues to captivate hearts and minds.

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