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Salute to Vienna will ring in the New Year

Salute to Vienna will ring in the New Year
Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Attila Glatz Concert Productions will present a “Salute to Vienna” concert on Dec. 29. (Photo by Chris Lee)

As a girl growing up in Vienna, Marion Glatz loved the traditional New Year's concert, or Neujahrskonzert.

The annual event featured singing, ballroom and ballet dancing, a live symphony orchestra and much merriment.

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"We grew up with this concert, and we always watched it," said Glatz, who co-founded the North American Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert in 1995 and continues to serve with her husband, Attila Glatz, as executive producer.

The two will bring their multi-disciplinary extravaganza to Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center for the Arts Dec. 29, and Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall Jan. 1, 2018.

"We listened to 'The Blue Danube' waltz, watched the marches and the dancers," Glatz said. "It gave us such a lift. It was such a happy moment. We opened a bottle of Champagne. We told our mom and dad, 'It's not a problem. We can achieve anything.'"

Salute to Vienna mirrors the performance that has taken place in Austria's capital every year since 1939. It has become a popular concert, always featuring the music of the Strauss family — Johann Strauss I and II, Joseph and Eduard Strauss.

Since its start, it has taken place in the "Goldener Saal," or Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein in Vienna. Clemens Krauss was the first conductor in 1939, and Riccardo Muti, a frequent conductor of this performance, is scheduled to do the next one Jan. 1, 2018.

"This concert is televised around the globe with 1.5 billion viewers," said Glatz, who moved to Toronto in 1982, but maintains dual Austrian-Canadian citizenship. "This tradition continues in Vienna and will never die."

In the United States, PBS has broadcasted the concert since 1985. A Glatz-produced version of Salute to Vienna has played on PBS since 2013.

The musical program for the Glatzes' Salute to Vienna will consist of highlights from the operettas "The Merry Widow," "Die Fledermaus" and "The Gypsy Princess," with spirited overtures. The orchestra will play Strauss waltzes, including "The Blue Danube," and polkas from Vienna's Golden Age.

Conductor András Deák and the Strauss Symphony of America will perform with soprano Katarzyna Dondalska, Viennese tenor Alexander Kaimbacher, members of the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine and international champion ballroom dancers.

"Our conductor, he is from Budapest. He has a very good rapport with the audience," Glatz said. "He tells little funny stories from the era and from Vienna."

This production — an all-new show with a fresh cast and program — is traveling to 24 cities in the United States and Canada, including Boston Symphony Hall; Chicago Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center; and David Geffen Hall — Lincoln Center in New York City.

Salute to Vienna features 120 singers, dancers and conductors every year. Plus, 1,500 musicians will join in from across the U.S. and Canada. Locally, the Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego shows will feature members of the San Diego Symphony.

While the music and performances are intricate, they are not too complicated or inaccessible for most audiences, Glatz said.

"We always play pieces the audience can relate to," she said. "Everyone will recognize 'The Blue Danube.' It's the biggest musical hit of all time. It's larger than any hit by the Beatles, Elvis Presley and others. Even people who have no idea about music have heard 'The Blue Danube.'"

The Glatzes' company, Attila Glatz Concert Productions, produces, promotes and manages many different types of shows, from classical, jazz, folk and country concerts to movie and video game music performances. Salute to Vienna remains their favorite, signature production.

"This production was our dream come true," Glatz said. "Kids love it, because it's easy listening music. The ballet has funny parts. In the polkas, boys and girls play different roles in different stories.

"It is not like a typical concert. It is a feast for the senses. And it really is very entertaining."

If You Go

What: Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 29

Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: Tickets start at $49

Information: (714) 556-2787 or scfta.org

Richard Chang is a contributor to Times Community News.

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