If the Long Island Philharmonic could make a New Year’s resolution, it might be to proclaim every night New Year’s Eve.
Well, not every night. Philharmonic president Jack Russell and music director David Stewart Wiley would settle for resolving to have a few more performance dates in 2016.
“I’m confident we’ll increase the number of concerts we have next year,” Russell said in an interview about the upcoming 25th annual New Year’s Eve show at Tilles Center.
“It’s become such a popular event,” Russell says. “Lots of people walk up to the box office that night to buy tickets a year in advance.”
“We’ve tried other themes,” says Maestro Wiley, “but Broadway is what our audience wants.”
This time the Philharmonic presents “My Fair Broadway,” an all-Lerner-and-Loewe program, 60 years since the Great White Way debut of the musical by librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.”
Fronting for the orchestra are Jennifer Hope Wills, Sean MacLaughlin (“Phantom of the Opera” for both), Eric van Hoven (Off-Broadway’s “Ziegfeld Follies of 1936”) and Alicia Hall Moran (“Porgy and Bess”).
“The singers love performing in front 50 musicians instead of just an ensemble,” Wiley says.
The concert opens with selections from “Camelot” followed by “Paint Your Wagon” and “Gigi.” After the Champagne-toast intermission, it’s such favorites from “Brigadoon” as “Almost Like Being in Love” and classics from “My Fair Lady,” ending with “I Could Have Danced All Night.” About the only number not from Lerner and Loewe’s songbook is the “Auld Lang Syne” encore.
Another popular feature of the Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve is the 7:30 starting time, allowing for later far-flung celebrations. The two-hour concert ends with the drop of a glittering ball. “It’s the earliest midnight anywhere,” Wiley adds with a laugh.
YEAR TO YEAR
Looking back on 2015, Russell says a highlight was the return of the Philharmonic to the Islip Arts Council’s annual summer concert and fireworks salute to the military. “The concert drew an estimated 30,000,” Russell says, “and many new sponsors.”
A highlight that Wiley cites is winning the Yale University Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award with the Uniondale School District. Because of changes in Common Core, plus the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, expected to reduce emphasis on national testing, Russell says the Philharmonic is likely to expand its school partnerships and play several more concerts with students.
“We also have a good shot,” Russell says, “of adding another concert to our free summer season.” Besides East Islip, the Philharmonic plays East Meadow’s Eisenhower Park and Huntington’s Heckscher Park. “A couple of Nassau towns have added bigger outdoor stages,” Russell says, “so we think we’ll play one of those next summer.”
Meanwhile, tickets remain for New Year’s Eve in the 2,000-seats Tilles Center.