This New Year’s Eve, maestro Richard Kaufman, one of the world’s finest pops conductors, will help the Santa Barbara Symphony ring in 2008 in style. He and guest soloists Matt James (tenor) and Nelson Kole (piano) will be performing a tribute to composer Leroy Anderson as well as works by Smetana, Lara, Puccini, and Sousa, among others. The occasion-besides New Year’s-is Anderson’s 100th birthday. You might not recognize his name, but you’ll certainly recognize his music; he wrote a number of clever works called “miniatures” that became themes for countless television shows during the 1950s, along with “Sleigh Ride” and “The Typewriter,” two familiar pieces that will be played in the concert. Working primarily with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Anderson became one of the foremost composers of light concert music of the 20th century, giving the genre a distinctively American accent.
Anderson did write at least one serious concert work, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, which Nelson Kole and the Santa Barbara Symphony will also perform on New Year’s Eve. Kole will play the title instrument in “The Typewriter,” a work that features an ancient device that makes a distinctive clicking noise and occasionally rings a bell. (Historians believe that this device, the “typewriter,” was used for creating documents before the invention of the computer.) After the intermission, Matt James will sing show tunes from Les Miserables and Jekyll and Hyde, along with one of the most difficult opera arias of all time: “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. Even if you’re not much of an opera buff, you’ll recognize this piece-it was Luciano Pavarotti’s signature aria, and even made the pop charts in England after he performed it at a soccer game. It contains a long, high note-a “B,” not a “C”-that singers find daunting, but I’m sure James will be up to the challenge. Even if you are feeling good after the show, don’t try singing this note on the way home; it’s only for professionals.
Fans of film music are also in for a treat: The Symphony will perform several numbers from Klaus Badelt’s score for Pirates of the Carribbean and the “Dance of the Comedians” from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, the first opera to receive full cinematic treatment and a resource for any comedy that needs a score. For the grand finale, Nelson Kole will perform his own composition, “Someday,” and Matt James will sing “Auld Lang Syne.” On that one, you probably should sing along.
Santa Barbara Symphony Annual New Year’s Eve Pops Concert, 8:30 p.m., December 31, 2007, at the Arlington Theatre. For more information, call (805) 898-9326 or visit thesymphony.org.