Experience the exuberant, collective thrill of a live orchestra in this round up the best of the north’s new year classical music concerts

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“Vienna, music and new year are three things that have become more or less inseparable in the minds of many millions of music lovers the world over,” according to conductor Justin Brown. “It’s not far off the mark to say that it’s all down to the genius of one man.”

Johann Strauss II, the so-called Waltz King, was actually only one of a dynasty of Strausses who bestrode the world of light music in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“His mission was to entertain – and he did it so well that even the greatest and most serious of classical composers couldn’t help but admire his craft and inspiration. But he himself had no particular connection to new year. He played his music wherever and whenever he could.”

The Strauss-new year connection seems to have started with his nephew, Johann Strauss III, who performed his first new year’s concert in the Musikverein in 1928. The family connection continued, and the Viennese concert itself is today more popular than ever.

“My own first experience of it was the 1987 BBC broadcast conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who broke with tradition by inviting a soprano soloist, the wonderful Kathleen Battle, to join the orchestra,” says Brown, who joins in the tradition this year with the Orchestra of Opera North. The Viennese Whirl at Leeds Town Hall on New Year’s Eve will be complemented by soprano Jeni Bern and arias from the operettas of Carl Zeller.

“It goes without saying that watching the televised version among party poppers and empties in your sitting room won’t compare with the exuberant, collective thrill of the Orchestra of Opera North in full swing.”

Elsewhere across the north other classical musical ensembles are bringing in the new year in a range of styles. In Buxton the British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will be led by Jeff Moore and conducted by Anthony Kraus as they provide an evening of opera, operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan and more.

In Manchester and Liverpool there’s a slightly less traditional approach. Conductor Michael England will guide the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra through the music of Abba with help from singers from the West End, including Jenna Lee James, Rachael Wooding, Jon Boydon and Norman Bowman. The Bridgewater Hall is transformed into Las Vegas as Manchester Camerata presents the Definitive Rat Pack.

“I love the new year period,” says Bob Riley, CEO of the Manchester chamber orchestra. “It’s that time when we’ve only just passed the comforting sound of carols and we move onto the glitz, glamour and lush tones of all that a classical orchestra’s sound brings. It evokes that extra special feel of celebration and anticipation for the coming year.”

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