FIVE BY DESIGN BIOGRAPHY
Five By Design’s signature harmonies have withstood the test of time in a career that stands out on America’s musical landscape, spanning more than fifteen years. This nationally-acclaimed vocal ensemble has been the choice of symphony orchestras and performing art centers delighting hundreds of thousands. |
But Five By Design’s creative talents go far beyond their vocal prowess. As the creative talent behind Radio Days, Club Swing, Stay Tuned and Cool and Swingin’, their productions showcase the group’s penchant for storytelling and the comedic. Whether backed by symphony orchestra or studio big band, Five By Design embraces the unforgettable melodies, lush harmonies, and swinging rhythms that evoke the names of Miller, Mancini and Mercer.
The Minnesota-based Five By Design includes Lorie Carpenter-Niska, Kurt Niska, Michael Swedberg, and Terrence Niska who have been singing together since 1986. The group’s familial ties include brothers Terrence and Kurt Niska and the husband-wife duo of Kurt and Lorie Niska and childhood collaborator, Michael Swedberg. The creative team is supported by in-house artist representative Alton Accola. Their technical team includes Sound Engineer Phil Henrickson who has worked with the ensemble since 1987.
Radio Days, Five By Design’s ﬂagship production, debuted in the 1980’s as a patriotic tribute to the “golden age of radio,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II. Nearly two decades later, Radio Days still receives great reviews. The Washington Post heralded its Kennedy Center debut with the National Symphony Orchestra as “one of the best pops performances of the season.” The Radio Days soundtrack was recorded with the Utah Symphony Orchestra under guest conductor David Lewis Crosby.
With the success of Radio Days and the renewed interest in swing, the Baltimore Symphony requested another production from Five By Design ultimately leading to the Baltimore premiere of Club Swing in 2001. The show follows the rise and fall of the big band era from 1937-1955 at the ﬁctional Hotel Crosby, “where the music’s hot, the drinks are cool, and the legend lives forever.” The Club Swing soundtrack was recorded with a big band headed by Willis Delony, Five By Design’s principal pianist/conductor.
In 2006 Five By Design unveiled their third production. In true variety show fashion, Stay Tuned moves seamlessly from songs to skits and back again providing a night of marvelous entertainment when television ruled the airwaves. The music of Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin and many more is presented live and in living color. The Stay Tuned soundtrack was recorded with an eight-piece band with Willis Delony once again at the helm.
Combining their warm, well-rounded signature vocals with the musical gunslinging of alto sax legend Richie Cole and a bit of theatrical panache, Five By Design’s latest production hit the stage in 2010. Set in the format of a live radio broadcast, Cool and Swingin’ explores the career of Mr. Cole from his early days with Buddy Rich to working with the Tonight Show Band to the present day.
Five By Design enjoys the great fortune of working with outstanding orchestrators including: Lovell Ives, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies; Willis Delony, Professor of Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and ﬁlm score orchestrator, Maury Laws, noted most for his work on the Rankin-Bass animated specials including “Frosty, the Snowman” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer;” Brian Shaw, Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University and Co-Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Wind Symphony; and Andrew Neesley, award-winning jazz trumpeter and inventive composer for the New York based band Nees and Vos. While the vocal arrangements are the creative work of Five By Design, their orchestrators bring those charts to life with unparalleled expertise.
National media exposure includes National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition–Sunday” and “Swingin’ Down the Lane” along with a feature story in Symphony magazine. The ensembles’ recordings are available on their website and they also appear as guest artists on John Meyer’s Bringin’ Out the Beast. With a touring itinerary averaging 60-plus performances each season, their talents have taken them across the country, up into Canada and as far away as the Bosphorus International Music Festival in Istanbul, Turkey.
For further information regarding Five By Design’s itinerary and activities, visit the ensemble’s website at www.ﬁvebydesign.com.