CEDAR FALLS – New Year’s Eve revelers can party the night away, or watch TV and nosh Chex Mix while waiting for the glittering ball to drop in New York City’s Times Square – or dress up and dance the night away at the biggest New Year’s Eve gala in the Cedar Valley.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra is hosting “Melodies ‘Til Midnight,” an evening of music, dancing, fun and socializing Dec. 31 at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. The event is part of the symphony’s 90th anniversary season celebration.
“How often do you get to dance to a live orchestra? It’s a singular experience, both as a performance for us and a way to involve the audience by moving them around the dance floor,” enthused Jason Weinberger, conductor and Pauline Barrett Artistic Director.
“So much of what we do is play for an audience in a dark concert hall. I like the idea of the audiences being part of what’s going on and enjoying the music in a physical, kinetic way.”
Weinberger will lead the symphony concert filled with Viennese waltzes and light classical music.
“There’s such an infectious nature to waltz music which harkens back to a very glamorous past. I love it so much – the whole 18th century history of Vienna is interesting and composers created one of the greatest periods of time for dance music. There’s a joy and gaiety to these pieces that are made to be danced in opulent, beautiful settings,” Weinberger said.
“People are looking for something fun to share with friends on this one special night of the year, and we wanted to offer a unique opportunity for this kind of event. We’re eager to get a good turn out, so we can offer something like this annually, make it a tradition and add more elements and make it even more spectacular.”
The wcfsymphony hasn’t overlooked the party aspect of the evening. The Gallagher Bluedorn lobby will be transformed for New Year’s Eve with festive décor and lighting. Hannam Design is creating the table décor, and the GBPAC staff is designing the lighting.
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Waterloo’s popular singer Felicia Smith-Nalls will perform in the Gallagher-Bluedorn lobby beginning at 7 p.m. The concert will follow at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall where the audience is invited to waltz to the symphony’s live performance.
Weinberger has patterned the concert after the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s concert. It will feature a variety waltzes, light polka and light classical pieces, including Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker.”
An after-party begins in the lobby following the concert and will continue until midnight. The Hands of Time band, featuring University of Northern Iowa faculty members Chriz Merz, Bob Doan, Jonathan Schwabe and Dennis Johnson, will provide popular music and light jazz for dancing.
Party favors will be distributed to after-partygoers. There will be a food buffet and a complimentary champagne (or sparkling cider) toast at midnight.
Audience members are encouraged to dress formally for the event, perhaps in clothing reminiscent of the roaring ‘20s to mark the symphony’s 90th anniversary – or come as they are to enjoy the fun.
“I really love these events – the music is great, the evening has glamour and fun – what a way to create a memorable evening and ring out the old and ring in the New Year,” Weinberger said.
Tickets are available at the GBPC box office, through UNItix at 273-4849 or online at wcfsymphony.org. Separate tickets are required for the concert and after-party. Concert ticket prices range from $30 to $60 for adults. Student tickets for the concert are available at $10 for college-age students and $5 for students through age 18.
After-party tickets are priced at $30 for all ages.
Packages that include both the concert and the after-party are also available, and range from $45 to $79.
Lead sponsor for the event is H.M. Buzz Anderson/Anderson Enterprises, with Jim and Amy Coloff and Kent and Barbara Opheim as additional sponsors.