Birmingham tradition: Alabama Symphony’s New Year’s Eve concert to unveil exciting new format

Alabama Symphony
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Alabama Symphony
Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Chris Confessore

One of Birmingham’s most popular New Year’s Eve events is introducing an exciting new format and venue this year.

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO) will be presenting Celebrate! The New Year’s Eve Concert on December 31st, 6:00pm at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

For 15 years, the ASO New Year’s Eve concert was held at the Alabama Theatre and the music was centered around a Viennese New Year’s Eve theme.

This year, the concert has been moved to the Alys Stephens Center and the music will incorporate some pieces  from Vienna, but also a wide range of “Pops” celebrating music around the world.

Amidst the changes, we sat down and talked to the one person who has been a part of every Alabama Symphony Orchestra New Year’s Eve concert for the last decade and a half, conductor Chris Confessore.

New Format

Our first question was about the change in format.

“When they asked me to consider changing the format, I didn’t want to start changing it into Dick Clark’s Orchestra Rockin New Year’s Eve. But I wanted to have something like those different broadcasts from around the world that we watch when we are safely home on New Year’s Day. I always like it when they say, now here is the New Year’s Eve broadcast a few hours ago from London and here it is from France. We are incorporating that into the concert,” stated Confessore.

There will be a wide range of music from all over the world  filling the hall at the Alys Stephens Center. Along with the traditional Viennese music there will a Judy Garland medley, some James Bond theme music, a Tango, music from Broadway hits Wicked and West Side Story, and of course the classic at every Times Square New Year celebration, New York New York.

After describing the wide variety of music scheduled for the evening that includes a special piece by a friend of Confessore from South Africa, which incorporates African rhythms, Confessore laughed and said,

“You go from South Africa, James Bond, Vienna, Argentina and then to OZ.”

Photo from michelleamato.com

Joining the Alabama Symphony Orchestra for the evening to sing the Judy Garland medley, and music from Wicked  is vocalist Michelle Amato. Not a stranger to the stage, Amato has  toured or recorded with musical superstars Quincy Jones, Jon Secada, Liza Minnelli, Al Green and Yanni.

New Venue

At the conclusion of the interview with Confessore, we discovered an interesting bit of information about this year’s venue.  According to Confessore, the concert hall the Alabama Symphony Orchestra wanted to play the New Year’s concert 15 years ago was the Alys Stephens Center.

“Ironically when we planned for the very first time to do this concert, this was the place (Alys Stephens Center) we wanted to do it. Back then, the response from Alys Stephens was, oh we don’t want to be open New Year’s Eve. So we lucked into the Alabama (Theatre). It was a good place , and I’m sorry we are not continuing there, but we are excited about the change in format and venue, he added.

Strauss and the champagne toast

One of the most memorable traditions of every ASO New Year’s Eve concert has been the playing of the Johann Strauss, Jr. Champagne Polka and toast.

Rest assure, for citizens of Birmingham and our surrounding communities, that tradition is  the official start of New Year’s Eve festivities in the Magic City.

Details about the concert

Celebrate! The New Year’s Eve Concert is a special event of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 SuperPOPS! Series, sponsored by Red Diamond®. Tickets start at $39, with student prices available. To purchase tickets, visit us online at alabamasymphony.org, in person at 1200 10th Ave. South, Birmingham, or call 205.975.278

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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