Monday, December 22, 2008

NPR to present Toast of the Nation Dec. 31

The 29th annual New Year’s Eve special Toast of the Nation rings in 2009 with coast-to-coast live concerts featuring full orchestras and jazz all-stars at the best music venues across the country, including multilingual Pink Martini at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; the Mingus Big Band at New York City’s storied Jazz Standard; and a rousing quartet from one of the last true jazz joints in New Orleans.

NPR Music and WBGO/Jazz88.3FM, the NPR Member station in Newark, NJ, reunite for their 24th year of co-producing Toast of the Nation, to air Wednesday, December 31, from 8:00PM-5:00AM(ET) on NPR Member stations nationwide. For local stations and broadcast times, visit

WGBO’s Rhonda Hamilton, host of the first live NPR New Year’s Eve broadcast in 1979 and many since, will anchor the entire evening.

8:00PM(ET), Boston: Hiromi and Sonicbloom – This year’s coast-to-coast marathon opens live from First Night in Boston, with Japanese keyboard artist Hiromi and her group Sonicbloom at Berklee College of Music’s Berklee Performance Center. WGBH Radio/Boston produces, with Eric Jackson hosting.

9:00PM(ET), New York City: Marian McPartland Celebration – Toast of the Nation celebrates Marian McPartland, host of NPR’s Piano Jazz, with highlights from her 90th birthday party in March 2008, at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

9:30PM(ET), Washington, D.C.: Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band – Live from the John F. Kennedy Center, “A Jazz New Year’s Eve” features the quartet New York Voices and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.

11:00PM(ET), New York City: The Mingus Big Band – The party continues from the Jazz Standard, named the #1 jazz club by New York magazine in 2008. The Mingus Big Band, together for almost 20 years, roars through music from Mingus Ah Um, Blues & Roots, and Mingus Dynasty – three acclaimed Charles Mingus albums from 1959. WBGO’s Michael Bourne hosts the east coast countdown to 2009.

12:15AM(ET), New Orleans: Evan Christopher – From Donna’s Bar & Grill on Rampart Street, clarinetist Evan Christopher plays New Orleans jazz and beyond, with Tom McDermott on piano, Matt Perrine on bass and sousaphone and Shannon Powell on drums. WBGO’s Josh Jackson hosts the countdown to 2009, Central Time. This concert is presented with thanks to WWNO.

1:30AM(ET), Los Angeles: Pink Martini – Toast of the Nation crosses coasts to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for Pink Martini, the multilingual, pan-stylistic orchestra that promises two midnight celebrations – the first for Mountain Time listeners, and the climactic countdown with confetti blast and “Auld Lang Syne” for Pacific Time.

Toast of the Nation was first broadcast by NPR in 1979, and since then has become a New Year’s Eve tradition. The 2004 edition was the highest-fidelity live radio broadcast in history, transmitting in 5.1 discrete digital surround sound. The following year, Toast of the Nation became the first live national music program broadcast from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and featured numerous local artists who hadn’t performed in their hometown since the disaster.

Toast of the Nation is the capstone of NPR Music’s holiday offerings, including Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s concerts available on-air and online: NPR Music has daily top 10 lists of the year’s best music in every genre, with the opportunity to listen to featured songs from listeners’ and critics’ best picks. This year, NPR Music also introduces “Jingle Jams,” a six hour holiday music stream – spanning everything from Bach to the Ramones to Louis Armstrong – compiling 10 public radio stations’ favorite holiday songs.

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