MANCHESTER VILLAGE >> Before the champagne is uncorked and toasts offered to the year ending and the one about to start, there's a concert to attend.
Actually, there are two concerts the Manchester Music Festival is serving up on Thursday, Dec. 31 at the First Congregational Church. One starts at 3:30 p.m. and is more of a family-oriented affair, expected to run about 45 minutes. That will be followed by a second one set to start at 5:30 p.m. and will probably run about an hour, according to Ariel Rudiakov, the artistic director of the music festival.
Either way, this fifth annual New Year's Eve concert staged by the music festival is the perfect way to ring in the New Year musically speaking, he said.
"It's virtually impossible for anybody who likes anything about music to go wrong," he added.
Nine string players — a combination of professional musicians, former music festival "Young Artists" from the festival's Michael Rudiakov Music Academy, as well as some of the academy's faculty instructors — will be on hand along with other guest artists. Also taking part will be several musicians from the Manchester Youth Ensemble, students at the Rudiakov Academy, ranging in age from 7 to 17 years, to provide breadth and depth to the show, he said.
They will be joined by a couple of guest instrumentalists who will be playing trumpet and clarinet, he said.
Among the musical selections scheduled for the earlier family concert will be "Sleighride" and "The Waltzing Cat" by composer LeRoy Anderson.
The afternoon concert will be led by the academy's education director, Joana Genova.
The roughly hour long evening concert will include music by Dag Wiren, Corelli, Shostakovich, Gershwin, Mozart, Dinicu, Debussy, deAbreu and others. Among them will be a "nod to the cartoon world," as the concert announcement states, in the form of a piece titled "Looney Tunes Fugue."
One of the highlights of the evening show — which will not pause for an intermission — will be Casey Corvino, from Dorset, a soprano vocalist who will be making her debut with the music festival.
"She's developing into a fine young talent," Rudiakov said, adding that she will be singing two arias, one by Mozart and another by Carl Maria von Weber.
Corvino, who recently finished her undergraduate work at college, said she was very excited to be making her debut with the music festival.
The two pieces she will be singing are quite different she said — one is relatively fast paced, and the other a slower one, she said.
The piece by Weber is "very dramatic and large-voiced, compared to the other piece by Mozart," she said. "They're totally different from each other — one has long flowing lines and the other is more jumpy an has more runs."
She will be performing the arias accompanied by the string section, she said.
The show will also offer pieces ranging from tango by Rodriguez to Viennese waltzes and offer a good deal of variety over the course of the concert, Rudiakov said.
The timing of both concerts is designed to allow families to merge the events with dinner and subsequent New Year's Eve plans, he added.
"It's proven to be a popular event and we hope people will take advantage of it," he said.
Sparkling cider and chocolates will be served after the evening concert.
Tickets for the family concert are $13 for adults; children and students will be admitted free of charge. Tickets for the evening concert are $30 for adults and $13 for children.
For more information, call the festival's office at 802-362-1956, or visit mmfvt.org, Tickets may also be purchased at the Northshire Bookstore and at the door.