DSO hosts New Year's Eve concert
Michael Jackson may have been the King of Pop, but the title of King of Pops belongs to Jeff Tyzik.
Comfortable in swing, jazz, funk, Latin, classical, Celtic, Dixieland and any number of other musical styles, Tyzik is the Principal Pops Conductor of six orchestras — the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony and, since 2013, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
So it seems perfectly natural that Tyzik, who's also an arranger, composer, producer and trumpeter, should be swinging in the new year leading the DSO in a diverse New Year's Eve program ranging from Fats Waller, Irving Berlin and Cab Calloway to the Johann Strausses (Jr. and Sr.). The celebratory evening ends in a champagne-fueled sing-along of "Auld Lang Syne," followed by Tyzik's spunky arrangement of "When the Saints Go Marching In."
For added musical zest, jazz trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling and Hammond B-3 organist Bobby Floyd will contribute to the high spirits.
"I wanted to celebrate New Year's in many musical ways," Tyzik says about the wide-ranging repertoire.
"The DSO is more than capable of playing every style of music and pulling it off. That's been my experience with them — they know how to nail it. So I thought it would be very interesting for people in the audience to have some fun and hear a wide variety of music."
But it won't be just the revelers assembled in Orchestra Hall who can soak up the tunes. The DSO's program will also be telecast live on Detroit Public Television (WTVS Channel 56).
The night gets off to a funky start with Tyzik's arrangement of instrumental hits from the 1960s and '70s. But it isn't a hodge-podge affair; Tyzik says there was a unifying thread.
"It's an idea I had because these tunes are all sort of the same tempo and also fun tunes to play," he says. "It starts off with 'Watermelon Man' and then goes into 'The Hustle,' followed by 'Grazing in the Grass,' by Hugh Masekela. The last piece is 'Pick Up the Pieces,' by The Average White Band."
A native of Hyde Park, New York, Tyzik earned his musical spurs at the celebrated Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. One of his teachers was trumpeter and flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, famous for his 1978 hit "Feels So Good." But Mangione was no pushover as an instructor, Tyzik recalls, calling him "a very tough guy."
But Tyzik's perseverance paid off when Mangione asked him to work with him as lead trumpet player and co-produce five albums.
"I always joke with people when I say I earned by bachelor's and master's at the Eastman School, and I got my doctorate working with Chuck Mangione," he says. "I needed a doctor after working with him."
Tyzik also worked with trumpeter and "Tonight Show" bandleader Doc Severinsen.
Tyzik collaborated with trumpeter Allen Vizzutti on a Trumpet Concerto that Severinsen recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and also produced Severinsen's Grammy-winning 1986 album, "The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen, Volume I."
Among Tyzik's other compositions are a Timpani Concerto and a Trombone Concerto, and he's working on a Violin Concerto that will premiere next season in Rochester, New York.
Tyzik still finds time to toot the trumpet, but he'll leave the solos to Byron Stripling on New Year's Eve.
"I'll be too busy playing Mr. Conductor," he says.
George Bulanda is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
DSO New Year's Eve Concert
10 p.m. Wednesday
Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center
3711 Woodward, Detroit
Concert-only tickets are $40-$50; a number of other ticket levels are available that include a post-concert gala with strolling dinner, open bar, dancing, etc.