It’s a New Year’s Eve tradition that won’t put too big of a dent in the budget or leave you searching for the aspirin the next morning. In fact, New Year’s Eve at the Granada with the Santa Barbara Symphony will send you singing and dancing out onto State Street just in time to have a midnight kiss under the stars. This year’s guest conductor is Robert Bernhardt, a veteran pops maestro who has been a frequent guest conductor with the Boston Pops, the orchestra considered by many to be the best in the category. I spoke with Bernhardt recently, and he shared with me the formula for this year’s program, which he has concocted in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Symphony’s music director, Nir Kabaretti. Here are Bernhardt’s five reasons to make the Granada your NYE destination for 2011. For tickets and information, call 899-2222 or visit thesymphony.org.
1. Two Traditions: This year’s program spans two distinct, and distinctly celebratory, traditions, according to Bernhardt. He said that he and Kabaretti have programmed “a combination of the traditional Viennese approach for the first half, with Strauss waltzes and opera excerpts for earlier in the evening, and a really interesting arrangement of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ taken from the soundtrack to It’s a Wonderful Life to end the first half. Then the second half is full of Americana.”
2. “Tico Tico”: One of the most exciting new elements in the second half of the show is an arrangement of the Brazilian pop classic “Tico Tico” that Bernhardt just discovered. “It was commissioned by Daniel Barenboim as an encore for the Chicago Symphony after they had played Ravel’s Boléro. The arranger is a man named Carmen Dragon, who just happens to be the father of Daryl Dragon, the Captain in Captain and Tennille, and let me tell you, I conducted it for the first time a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore, and this thing rocks! People will be going crazy for it.”
3. Soul Caboose: Toward the end of the evening, when things begin to get loose, Bernhardt has a couple of major statements from the African-American canon scheduled — Duke Ellington and Bernard Herrmann’s “Ellington Fantasy” and the ever-seductive “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Show Boat.
4. Mela Dailey: The gorgeous and vocally gifted soprano Mela Dailey, who hails from Austin, Texas, and has loads of professional experience in everything from Rigoletto to Jonathan Dove’s contemporary opera Flight, will join the orchestra to sing both the opera excerpts and the pop songs.
5. Hats and Noisemakers: Because, well, they’re part of the package.