Julie Andrews to Host of GREAT PERFORMANCES 'Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2015'

Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns for the sixth time to host the festive annual New Year's celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Zubin Mehta, from Vienna's Musikverein.

From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2015, featuring the infectious melodies of the Strauss Family and their contemporaries, airs on Great Performances, Thursday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) with an encore performance that evening at 8 p.m.

This is the 77-year-old maestro's fifth appearance on the podium for the New Year's Concert. Following Willi Boskovsky, Clemens Krauss and Lorin Maazel, he joins the list of these great maestros who have conducted the concert most often. The Vienna State Ballet heads back to school and dances to both the "Students Polka" and the "Wine, Women and Song Waltz" in the palatial main building of Vienna's 650-year-old University on the city's grand Ringstrasse.

The venerable concert is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries. The Vienna Philharmonic's traditional New Year's program has showcased Viennese musical culture at the highest level, and since the first television broadcast in 1959, sent the world a New Year's greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. (The telecast marks the 31(st) broadcast of the event on PBS.)

Julie Andrews' role as host of these New Year's broadcasts continues to be a cherished tradition for viewers and the beloved singer, actress, and author herself: "I adore the privilege of returning to this magical city each year with its elegance, charm and magnificent gift of music. It is with great delight and joy that I, once again, have the pleasure of participating in this year's telecast."

She has been a frequent and luminous presence on Great Performances, starting with "An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner" (1989); "Julie Andrews in Concert" (1990); "Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II" (1995); "Back on Broadway" which spotlighted her return to the Great White Way in "Victor/Victoria" (1995); "Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh" (1998); "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies" (1999); its follow-up "My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs" (2001); and the restoration of the classic 1957 "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" (2004). She also hosted the Emmy Award-winning series Broadway: The American Musical in 2004. Andrews was recently featured in the "Great Performances' 40(th) Anniversary Celebration" (2013).

As is customary with these broadcasts, Ms. Andrews will travel from her home base in the Musikverein hall itself to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks. She'll travel up the Danube to Durnstein in Austria's beautiful Wachau Valley; take a streetcar tour of the historic buildings and palaces along the Ringstrasse; and visit the baroque Great Hall of the Old University where Beethoven premiered his 7(th) Symphony.

Born in India, studied in Vienna - Mehta, who was born in Bombay in 1936, studied in Vienna from 1954 until 1957 where he learned his trade under the tutelage of the 'maker of conductors' Hans Swarowsky. Following his debut in the United States in 1960, he was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 26 in 1962, which led him to world fame.

Later, the New York Philharmonic offered Mehta the post of Musical Director, a post he held until 1991 - longer than all his predecessors in the 20th century. From 1998 until 2006, Mehta was General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera.

The conductor, who has also dedicated himself to promoting young talent in India, is Music Director for Life at the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Honorary Member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Honorary Member of many other orchestras. In addition to numerous other awards, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.

The Vienna State Ballet is choreographed by Davide Bombana. It provides the ensembles at both the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Volksoper.

The musical program is as follows:

Johann Strauss
Perpetual Motion

Johann Strauss
Accelerations Waltz

Johann Strauss
Electro-Magnetic Polka

Eduard Strauss
At Full Steam, Quick Polka

Josef Strauss
Viennese Life, French Polka

Johann Strauss
On the Elbe, Waltz

Hans Christian Lumbye
Champagne Galop

Johann Strauss
Students Polka

Johann Strauss Sr.
Freedom March

Johann Strauss

Johann Strauss
Wine, Women & Song, Waltz

Eduard Strauss
With Style, Quick Polka

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Agnes Varis Trust, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and public television viewers, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.

From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2015 is produced by Heidelinde Rudy, and directed by Michael Beyer, with John Walker as producer/writer. For Great Performances, John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers; Bill O'Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

Visit GREAT PERFORMANCES Online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information about this and other programs.

About WNET
As New York's flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NEWSHOUR Weekend, CHARLIE ROSE and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.

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Twitter: @GPerfPBS

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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