There’s not a more refined way to ring in the new year than with a champagne toast and some great music. This year, The Energy Corridor of Houston Orchestra (ECHO) will make that a little easier with ECHO in the New Year, featuring guest vocalist Tianna Hall. It will be a night of big band, jazz and popular classical favorites at the Queensbury Theatre on December 31.
At just $60 per person, each guest will receive a swag bag and party hat. There’s also the pre-concert reception starting at 6:30 p.m. with wine and light bites in the lobby followed by the musical performance at 7:30 p.m. It will finish up just in time to head to one of the nearby restaurants or bars or to return home for a midnight smooch...or to watch if Mariah Carey repeats her hot mess performance from last year during her gig on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest."
This marks the second time Hall has appeared with ECHO for a New Year's Eve collaboration.
Regarding the relationship between the two, ECHO Musical Director and Conductor Mike Fahey says, "Two years ago at a big gala, I met Tianna, who was a featured performer. It happened to come up she lives in the Energy Corridor, and I thought it would be cool if I could get her to sing with us. She’s a big deal. She’s the most called-for female jazz artist in town."
He's correct in that statement. A quick look at Hall's web site shows her booked nearly every day for the next month.
The pairing of a jazz singer with a symphonic orchestra presents a unique type of relationship, with symphonies usually following the lead of the conductor and with jazz musicians prone to riff and add their own stylistic interpretations. For Fahey, the pair seems to match up quite well.
"It’s awesome standing beside her and listening to her artistry. Her musicianship is so incredible and so creative that it’s been a challenge in a good way, artistically, to take her type of artistry and meld it with a classically trained orchestra," Fahey said. She plays with the phrasing in a way that is so beautiful and is also a little foreign to classically trained musicians. It’s enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding to take that and translate it into terms the orchestra can understand."
Highlights from the set list include “I Got Rhythm,” “Cry Me A River,” “In The Mood,” “American Patrol,” and medleys from Hello, Dolly!, Guys and Dolls, Chicago and Hamilton.
"There aren’t that many places where you can have a great night out on New Year's Eve for such a bargain," Fahey said. "It's a great New Year's Eve event, and most any event will be double the price, and you might not get this kind of quality. It’s really a whole night out - not just a concert."
ECHO has been performing four years now, and it is made up of residents and workers of Houston's Energy Corridor. The group is a hybrid of people who play for the love of it and professional musicians.
Fahey says the group sounds really great, and they bring high quality music to the Energy Corridoor.
"It’s mushrooming, and it’s being to thrive culturally. We’re a renaissance. Our mission is to allow people to live in that neighborhood to play in the orchestra," he said.
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Interestingly, musical groups based on geography, industry or demographic have been a staple in Houston for decades. The Texas Medical Center Orchestra was founded in 2000, and is one of the few community orchestras in the United States to be based in the medical community. It is composed of doctors, nurses and other employees in the world famous medical district. The Gay Men's Chorus of Houston, née the Montrose Singers, has been around since 1979, and it's sister group Bayou City Women's Chorus was formed in 2005.
These groups deliver high quality performances several times throughout the year, often at a fraction of the price of the classically trained performance groups.
As for this week, though, it's all eyes - and ears - on ECHO as they usher in 2018 with style.
ECHO in the New Year has a pre-concert reception starting at 6:30 p.m. followed by the performance at 7:30 p.m. at Queensbury Theatre,12777 Queensbury Lane. For more information, visit ECHOrchestra.org. Tickets are $60.