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