Hot Shot

New Year's Eve is one of those holidays--all romanticized in legend, lore and on the big screen--that never pans out in real life. Think back on your past celebrations. Anything like a sublime, dressy affair where the love of your life swoops in, gets down on one knee and, well, When Harry Met Sally? Any big dramas such as the end of the world at the end of the millennium? Did you ever really "party like it's 1999," even in 1999? We didn't think so.

One year, we hosted a Scrabble and champagne party. Yawn. Another year, a bunch of girlfriends got together without the children to drink and yuk it up. Everyone was snoring by 10:30 p.m. Once when December 31 was warm and skies were clear, we drove out to Redbird Airport with pillows, blankets, a case of Freixenet and high hopes for stargazing, meaningful confessions of undying love and sex al fresco. Let's just say only one of the three planned events was consummated.

Get over your past pooped parties this year with a pricey, plunging neckline sort of evening in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra has planned a New York New Year's Eve that holds all the promise of anyone's longing for a year-end fantasy. The orchestra will play concert-style under the direction of former Boston Pops conductor James Orent. The program swells with timeless American music classics--George Gershwin, Cole Porter--plus the complete performance of "Rhapsody in Blue." After the concert, party guests will take the stage for dancing and prancing with a swing orchestra accompanied by hors d'oeuvres, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.

What will make this Rainbow Room-styled party especially cool will be the FWSO's guest artist, Gershwin pianist Kevin Cole. A piano prodigy at age 4, Cole has spent 40 years studying, practicing and playing Gershwin's oeuvre as critics, friends and family of America's prolific and popular composer drooled. Irving Berlin met Cole, heard him play and exclaimed, "Kid! If I could play like that, I'd never have become a songwriter." Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich wrote, "When Cole sits down at the piano, you would swear Gershwin himself was at work." Stephen Sondheim and members of the Jerome Kern and Gershwin families sing his praises. Cole says, "I had such a love for the great American songwriters and musical theater and popular music. My mom claims it's because I share my birthday, July 27, with Mozart and Jerome Kern." Cole says he's a staunch advocate for elevating Gershwin's music to that of classical geniuses, namely Mozart. "I'm still waiting for the day when concerts consist of a piece by Mozart, next to a piece by Stravinsky, next to a piece by Gershwin," he says. "I'm doing my best to make that happen."

Spend this holiday free of disillusionment. Get all gussied up. We recommend the Carole Lombard look for her, Clark Gable for him. Dust off your diamonds, cubic zirconia and dancing shoes. Polish the taffeta. Swing like you mean it. Party this year--finally--like it's 1999.

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