Oscar-winner and entertainment queen Julie Andrews will be hosting a spectacular New Year’s Day concert in Vienna. The New Year’s Day event is an annual tradition in Austria, which celebrates the New Year with performances from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
The orchestra will be conducted by Maestro Mariss Jansons, and accompanied by the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Vienna State Ballet soloists. This will be screen and stage legend Andrews’ seventh time hosting the event, and Maestro Mariss Jansons returns for the third time as conductor.
Great Performances is the biggest worldwide event in classical music, with an audience of millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries around the globe.
“Vienna is a magical city…rich in culture and history. The glorious music it has brought to the world is a gift. I look forward to hosting another New Year’s celebration and sharing some of the incredible sights and sounds that are uniquely Vienna.”
In keeping with tradition, Julie Andrews will travel from the Musikverein hall to multiple picturesque landmarks around Vienna: The Imperial Summer Palace of Schönbrunn, The Kaiserloge in the Royal Enclosure at Austria’s Freudenau racetrack, The Winter Riding School in the Hofburg, the Imperial Carriage Museum, The Volksgarten and the Volksgarten Club Disco, and the historic Tirolerhof farmhouse.
“We make it this beautiful picture postcard every year so wherever I am, I talk about that particular place and how it relates to the pieces that are being played or the history of the time. It usually fits in very well.”
The concert will consist mostly of works composed by the Strauss family — Johann Strauss, and his sons Josef, Johann, and Eduard — and their contemporaries. The Strauss family are widely regarded as principal contributors to the genre of Viennese light music.
Johann Strauss II was the most prolific of the Strauss composers, and is considered Austria’s national composer. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, operettas, and a ballet. Known as “The Waltz King” Strauss II ‘s works were responsible for popularizing the waltz in 19th century Vienna.
“The Blue Danube” is Strauss II’s most famous and recognizable work, and is an unofficial Austrian national anthem played by all public television and radio stations in the country at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The piece has also been popularized through cinema, most notably with its use in sci-fi epic 2001 and more recently in Amelie and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Julie Andrews succeeded the late Walter Cronkite as host of the Vienna New Years Day concert for PBS in 2009. It will see Andrews return to the country where her classic and best-known work, The Sound of Music (1965), was set.
Earlier in the year, it was announced that Andrews will direct a 60th anniversary production of the Lerner and Loewe classic of My Fair Lady in Sydney next year. She will be working with Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli (The King and I, South Pacific) and Opera Australia’s artistic director, Lyndon Terracini. My Fair Lady is the musical that gave Andrews her breakthrough performance in 1956.
The event will air on PBS in the United States as part of the performing arts anthology Great Performances, CCTV in China, NHK in Japan, MetroTV in Indonesia, KBS in South Korea, and SBS in Australia, which screens the event on a delay, in the evening at the end of New Year’s Day, Australian local time, an hour after the actual live performance has begun in Vienna.
New Years celebrations in Austria are a major attraction, with Vienna being one of the world’s most popular destinations during winter months. The city – famed for it’s art, design, music, nightlife, wine and boutiques – pulled in a record 13.5 million overnight stays last year. Vienna has more than 100 art museums, such as Albertina, Belvedere, and Leopold Museum in the Museumsquartier, which in total attract over eight million visitors per year.
Vienna is facing increased competition from other European cities as a winter destination, such as Zagreb. In order to cement its status as a tourist hot spot, the Austrian tourist board has launched an immersive multi media campaign, including a travel documentary YouTube Series called VIENNA/NOW, which offers an insight and guide to the city, what is currently trending, where to go, what to see and what to experience.
According to a UN Habitat report Vienna is one of the most prosperous cities in the world, ranked 1st globally for its culture of innovation, and sixth of 256 cities in the 2014 Innovation Cities Index. Last week, Vienna was recognised as the world’s leading “Knowledge City” by the World Capital Institute, for its educational establishments, cultural offering, high quality of life, its cosmopolitanism and central geopolitical location.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]