Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hogmanay for all who attend Beethoven’s 9th at the Fox


“Hogmanay” sounds like an unwieldy, less-than-lovely word, but it’s music to Spokane Symphony conductor James Lowe’s ears. When Lowe isn’t living and working in Spokane, home is in Scotland, where hogmanay is the word on New Year’s Eve.

“Hogmanay is Scottish and is a message of hope and togetherness,” Lowe explained. “It’s a word that comes up there on New Year’s Eve, which is the biggest holiday of the year in Scotland.

“What you do in Scotland is join arms and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’”

Lowe will bring the spirit of hogmanay to the Fox Theater on Sunday as the Spokane Symphony performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

“It’s a great way to ring in the New Year,” Lowe said. “You get to experience Beethoven’s last completed symphony. It’s such an uplifting piece of music.”

Beethoven’s 9th is the first symphony to incorporate vocal soloists and chorus into what, until then, had been a completely instrumental genre. Words are sung in the final movement by the four vocal soloists and a chorus. The words in the final movement are from the “Ode to Joy” a poem written by Friedrich von Schiller in 1785.

“The words from the German poet Schiller are about the universal human connection and how we are all brothers,” Lowe said. “The message that all humanity is joining together is a very powerful message.”

The New Year’s event at the Fox has crossover appeal.

“This is something for everyone,” Lowe said. “This is something that is great for the family and for someone who wants to go out with a date to a New Year’s Eve event. It’s a glamorous way to ring in the New Year.

“What we’re doing is early enough so that you can still go out to your parties in the evening. I hope people can come out and be part of the joy and togetherness. We at the Symphony are very much looking forward to 2024.”

The Symphony will mark the 50th anniversary of the Spokane Expo.

“I’m sitting here around the artifacts from the ’74 Expo,” Lowe said. “I’ve seen the official program from the Expo and the Spokane Symphony was heavily involved. The Symphony performed with Ella Fitzgerald in 1974 and we’ll be recreating a program (from the Expo) and reliving that glorious year in 2024.

“It’s a time to look forward but it’s also a time to look back, which is what we’ll do on New Year’s Eve.”