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New Year's Eve Gala

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
What better way to see in 2020 than with a classical concert
Balloons, fireworks, streamers - oh, and two hours of fabulous live classical music! It can only mean the wondrous New Year's Eve Gala which has become such a much-loved tradition at Symphony Hall in Birmingham over the last quarter of a century. At the heart of the festive New Year's Eve concert, which combines great musical classics with fun and sublime singing, is the London Concert Orchestra conducted by the irrepressible Anthony Inglis. With the help of immensely talented guest soloists Ilona Domnich and Alexander James Edwards, the concert delivered a mesmerising mix of operatic arias and duets. classical pieces. and familiar favourites which largely came together in a Last Night of the Proms style finale.

New Year's Eve Gala, Symphony Hall
See in the New Year in classical style. Photo Symphony Hall

The concert, which formed part of Raymond Gubbay Ltd's Christmas Festivals programme of seasonal concerts, began as it meant to go on with the Overture from Suppe's Poet and Peasant, which featured a beautiful cello solo. Next up was Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King from Grieg's Peer Gynt, followed by an excerpt from Katchachurian's Spartacus which became famous as the theme tune from TV's The Onedin Line. We then had the introduction of the soloists, first tenor Alexander who sang The Flower Song from Carmen, and then lyric soprano Ilona, originally a pianist, who treated us to The Waltz Song from Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. The wonderful standard continued throughout, with delightful soaring harmonies on duets such as Puccini's O soave fanciulla from La bohème contrasting well with full orchestral pieces including The Blue Danube.

Ilona Domnich
Lyric soprano Ilona Domnich turned on the style. Photo Ilona Domnich

But, as well as the feast of music, there was also a great deal of humour throughout the concert, notably when conductor Anthony Inglis disappeared from the stage at the start of The Drinking Song from La Traviata Brindisi, and then kept reappearing at various locations around this sumptuous venue. Later on, Anthony 'recruited' his wife and daughter from the packed audience to provide the cork-popping sound effects during the Champagne Polka by Strauss. He also 'attempted' to play the various solo instruments on Ravel's Bolero, happily played in its majestic entirety. The Proms-style finale gave way to plenty of patriotic flag-waving during the likes of the Sailor's Hornpipe, Rule Britannia, Nessun Dorma and Land of Hope and Glory, before the ceiling drop of balloons, streamers and ticker-tape to signal the striking of midnight led to the playing, and singing, of Auld Lang Syne.

Symphony Hall
Birmingham's Symphony Hall. Credit Mike Gutteridge

Rating: 5 out of 5
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Why? See in the New Year in classical style
When: December 31, 2019
Phone: 0121 780 3333
Where: Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA
Cost: Tickets from £26.50
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