The end-of-the-year, musical fireworks are grander than ever at Seattle Symphony.
The longtime tradition of ushering in a new year at Benaroya Hall with a monumental performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, is still in place for 2013, but overall holiday programming is a bit different this time.
Seattle Symphony Orchestra music director Ludovic Morlot conducted the Ninth at SSO’s last New Year’s Eve concert, as well as on surrounding nights. This year, the Ninth will ring out again in Benaroya Hall, but New Year’s Eve is taking on a different personality.
“For me, the concept of a New Year’s concert is to do something very different from the rest of the season,” Morlot says. “I would like to have an element of surprise. It was also important to me this year to welcome Jeff Tyzik with a program that is a little more diversified, which we can celebrate through collaboration.”
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Tyzik, in his first official season as Seattle Symphony’s principal pops conductor, will join Morlot on stage for a rare meeting of maestros. Together they will close out the year by alternating conducting duties, though there will be a couple of instances when they share the stage.
“We created a concert that has a lot of interesting and fun material,” says Tyzik. “The audience is going to see some things they don’t ordinarily get to see.”
“You’ll see me conduct music you would generally associate with a pops repertoire,” adds Morlot. “And you’ll see Jeff conduct some classical pieces.”
The program finds Morlot taking his players to a galaxy far, far away with a “Star Wars” suite culled from John Williams’ film scores, followed by Tyzik conducting the buoyant “Dance of the Comedians” from Bedrich Smetana’s opera “The Bartered Bride.”
Tyzik will then pick up his coronet to play on his own arrangement of W.C. Handy’s “Saint Louis Blues,” conducted by Morlot. He’ll also play on his “Jelly Roll Morton Suite” and conduct Reinhold Glière’s festive “Russian Sailor’s Dance” from the ballet “The Red Poppy.”
Morlot will cap the evening with George Gershwin’s rapturous “Rhapsody In Blue,” but the program’s centerpiece is called Five Movements from “The Nutcracker” In Jazz and Classical Versions. Morlot and Tyzik will trade off conducting excerpts from “The Nutcracker” as composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and re-imagined by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn for their 1960 album “The Nutcracker Suite.”
“This is probably something you’re only going to hear once in Seattle,” says Tyzik.
As for Beethoven’s Ninth?
Oregon Symphony music director Carlos Kalmar will marshal, for five performances, the many talents and forces — including the Seattle Symphony Chorale and guest soloists — involved in performing Beethoven’s exhilarating last completed symphony.
“This symphony changed the world of classical music,” says Kalmar.
“The piece is almost 200 years old, yet it’s still mind-boggling. I like to remind everyone that there is 35 or 40 minutes of astonishing music before we come to the jewel, the ‘Ode to Joy.’ Every one of the movements is incredibly great.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org