Everett Symphony celebrates Crazy 8’s and 2008

When he starts to reminisce, Everett Symphony conductor Paul-Elliott Cobbs can’t help but think about growing up in Detroit, attending the same church as Aretha Franklin and listening to Motown.

So don’t be too surprised if you hear some Motown tunes when Cobbs and the Everett Symphony Orchestra take a musical stroll down memory lane, playing hits through the decades during the symphony’s popular pre-New Year’s concert.

Everett Symphony’s “Night Before New Year’s Eve” concert is Tuesday at Everett Performing Arts Center and features host and television personality Tony Ventrella. The gala event kicks off with hors d’oeuvres and sparkling wine, continues with a suite of popular musical hits and ends with a dessert buffet.

The beauty of this type of celebration is that patrons can party with the symphony and still celebrate again the night after, Cobbs said.

“The concert is probably the best of all worlds because you get to eat before you listen to the music and drink champagne, reminisce about the good old days, listen to music you’ve heard before and have dessert after the concert, then sing ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ ” Cobbs said. “And then on the next night, you can go out and do it all over again.”

This concert will be a musical review of sorts with hits from the decades that end in the number eight. Some of the selections include songs from “West Side Story” from 1958, “Mission Impossible” and “Hey Jude” from 1968, songs from “Grease” from 1978, selections from “Les Miserables” and “Somewhere Out There,” the song from the animated film “An American Tale” from 1988, tunes from “Titanic,” from 1998, and the theme from the popular detective series “Peter Gunn” for 2008.

“It’s a fun show and we go down memory lane and talk about all the great things that happened during each particular decade,” Cobbs said.

He and his wife research all the decades and include events on the national and global scale and those particular to the Everett area. For instance, some in the audience may remember that the cost of a car back in 1958 was $3,000, Cobbs said.

For the Peter Gunn theme piece by Henry Mancini, there are certain musicians with the orchestra who are also jazz musicians, and that group will do improv in the middle of the number, Cobbs said.

Cobbs said there will be references to the Detroit-centered music of Motown in appreciation of President-elect Barack Obama’s love of Motown and Cobbs’ time in Detroit.

“Coming from Detroit, I got to know a lot of those musicians. I knew Diana Ross. She and I went to the same high school, though I like to say she went 10 years before I did,” Cobbs said, laughing. “Aretha Franklin and I saw each other in church.”

Cobbs is not only a talented conductor but also an entertaining emcee. He said, however, that he’s happy to share the night’s limelight with Tony Ventrella, but promises to entertain with lots of history and good music.

As the symphony board’s president Myrna Overstreet echoed, “It’s going to be a festive evening.”

“It’s really something for everybody,” she said. “It’s upbeat and lively and fun music and really toe-tapping.”

Reporter Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or goffredo@heraldnet.com.

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