MANCHESTER - Ring out the old, ring in the new.

Early next week, that's what area residents will be doing, in one form or another, as 2012 gives way to 2013. For those inclined to launch the final evening of the old year on a somewhat different note from the standard television fare that surrounds the final countdown in places like Times Square, another option is available locally.

The Manchester Music Festival will be holding its third - and now it's fair to call it an annual - New Year's Eve concert at the first Congregational Church in Manchester Village on Monday, Dec. 31.

Actually, there will be two concerts - the first, which starts at 4 p.m. - will be a less formal "family" concert designed to entertain those with younger children in tow. A special guest artist will play the role of a famous composer who will usher the audience through a magical mystery tour of the musical ages. The string ensemble that will be performing the evening show, along with three students from the MMF's Michael Rudiakov Music Academy, will be performing, some, though not all, of the same music as they will later during the evening show, which starts at 6 p.m.

The 4 p.m. family concert is being sponsored by the Merchants Bank.

The 6 p.m. concert will feature a 10 piece string ensemble lead by concertmaster Joana Genova, and will have a definite eclectic feel, said the MMF's artistic director, Ariel Rudiakov.


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"The whole idea is that we'd like to use this as an opportunity to bring people together and play music that we enjoy playing, that stays true to our classical roots but also casts a wide swathe of enjoyment for the audience," he said.

The show will kick off with a piece composed by Antonio Vivaldi - "Concerto for two violins in A minor." That will be followed by Handel's "Pastorale Symphony from Messiah," which will precede other selections by a wide range of composers that include Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Henry Mancini, Oskar Peterson, Gustav Holst and Lennon-McCartney.

Yes, The Beatles will be part of it - in spirit at least - when baritone Keith Kibler sings their haunting ballad "Yesterday."

"It's New Year's Eve, so we're looking forward to a look back and a look forward, and we thought that would be a really nice ballad that would draw in a more modern theme," Rudiakov said. "Between all these widely diverse composers, you'll find a common thread of collaboration, and we hope, a fitting way to ring out the year."

Kibler will also be singing selections from pieces by Giordani, Mozart, and Mancini.

The music festival settled on the New Year's Eve date as their featured winter concert after years of trying other dates during the December holiday season. Trying to find the "sweet spot" when their show wasn't in conflict with other events, yet timed to maximize attendance when holiday travelers and visitors might be around and interested in attending one of their shows, the MMF settled on New Year's Eve in 2010, after experiencing mixed results during other dates, Rudiakov said.

Ten stringed instruments makes for a large chamber ensemble, and the program - which will have an Argentinian-inspired tango titled "Spanish Dance" rubbing elbows with Henry Mancini's "Moon River," before concluding with the "Radetzky March" by Johann Strauss Sr (Strauss Jr's "Emperor Waltz" is next-to-last) - will have them exploring some varied musical genres.

"The basic nature of this is to celebrate - why not embrace the gathering of many composers and styles together under one roof and throw a musical party?" Rudiakov said.

Tickets for the 4 p.m. show are $10 for adults and free for those under 18 years-old. For the evening concert that starts at 6 p.m., admission will be $27 for adults and $10 for students with a valid I.D.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Northshire Bookstore, or online at www.mmfvt.org. To purchase tickets by phone, or for more information, call the music festival at 802-362-1956. A reception with non-alcoholic "bubbly" will follow after the evening performance.