Five By Design
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 twenty years. This nationally-acclaimed vocal ensemble has been the choice of symphony orchestras and performing art centers delighting hundreds of thousands.
The Minnesota-based Five By Design includes Lorie Carpenter-Niska, Catherine Scott, Kurt Niska, Michael Swedberg, and Terrence Niska. Four of the five 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.
Radio Days, Five By Design’s ﬂagship production, debuted in the 1980s 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 to 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 Cool and Swingin' 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.
In the spring of 2013 Five By Design launched its newest production, Live! from the Ultra Lounge. Set in the format of a faux radio broadcast from a tiki room, Live! from the Ultra Lounge not only travels to exotic locales with tropical rhythms, but it focuses on the kings and queens of cool…the artists that defined the atomic era: Bobby Darin, Rosemary Clooney, Wayne Newton, Peggy Lee, and the songs they made famous in fantastic new arrangements. Five By Design takes swing to the next level…for the ultra-hip and the ultra-cool.
Five By Design enjoys the great fortune of working with outstanding orchestrators including Lovell Ives, Willis Delony, Maury Laws, Brian Shaw, and Andrew Neesley. 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 a seven-city Guest Artist appearance with the 2012 Boston Pops Holiday tour featured on Wisconsin Public Television. They were also featured on National Public Radio and in Symphony Magazine. The ensemble’s 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 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.