The Nutcracker

The Beauty… The Majesty… The Music… The Nutcracker!

This timeless holiday classic returns to the stage of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts this December with a production that is designed to delight young and old alike!

You won’t want to miss the excitement as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince do battle with the evil Mouse Queen before taking a magical journey through a forest of snow to the Land of Sweets.


Set to Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s glorious music, this year’s production is supervised by the Columbus Ballet’s co-artistic directors, Bridget Adams and Laura Johnson, who have a combined 20+ years of experience with the Ballet. Leading the orchestra once again will be Maestro Paul Hostetter, the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair in Orchestral Conducting for the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, joined by the Voices of the Valley, the student choir under the direction of Dr. Michelle Herring-Folta.

Joining the Ballet in the role of the Cavalier will be Rony Lenis, formerly of the City Ballet of San Diego and the Colorado Ballet. Also appearing onstage will be local celebrities, including the Honorable Walter Gray, Shelby Guest from VisitColumbusGA, Mallory Schnell of WTVM-TV, and Helen Reinking from Momentum Physical Therapy (and sister of Broadway legend Ann Reinking). Finally, audiences can expect a couple of “furry and funny” new characters in this year’s production that will be sure to delight all ages.

Tickets are $40, $34 and $20 and can be purchased at the RiverCenter Box Office or at The RiverCenter is located at 900 Broadway in Columbus, GA.

The Columbus Ballet is pleased to welcome SunTrust Bank as their lead sponsor for this year’s production of The Nutcracker.

Additional funding is provided by the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the W.C. Bradley Company, Aflac, TSYS, Marjorie and Jerry Newman, Publix, Synovus-CB&T, Jay Harris Orthodontics, Wade Cleaners, Grit and Grace Studio to Streetwear, Joan Alberta Ellmer, the Honorable and Mrs. A. David Johnson, Dr. Billy Kendall and Dr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Sandri.

This program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency: the National Endowment for the Arts.

PAUL HOSTETTER, Musical Director

Conductor Paul Hostetter is the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair in Orchestral Activities for the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, the Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the acclaimed Sequitur Ensemble, the Principal Conductor of the NY Concerti Sinfonietta, and the Founder and Artistic Adviser to the Music Mondays chamber series in New York City. He has held appointments as the Director of Orchestral Studies at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, the Music Director of the Colonial Symphony and High Mountain Symphony, Artistic Director of the Winter Sun Music Festival, Music Director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, and the Associate Conductor for the Broadway productions of Candide and The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm.

Maestro Hostetter has appeared as a guest conductor with opera companies including the New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Peak Performances, Family Opera Initiative , and the Genesis Opera Company, and orchestras including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Prism Chamber Orchestra, the Daylesford Sinfonia (Bermuda), PAI Festival Orchestra (Kingston, PA), the Columbus Ballet and the Stony Brook Summer Music Festival Orchestra among others. As an assistant, he has worked with James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera. His performances have garnered rave reviews in multiple publications including the NY Times, NJ Star Ledger, Daily Record, Bermuda Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Epoch Times, and many others. He has led a number of international tours including a government sponsored exchange with Chinese orchestras in partnership with Claremont Trio cellist Julia Bruskin and Juilliard faculty pianist Aaron Wunsch.

A dedicated and passionate advocate for living composers, he has premiered over eighty-five works by prominent artists including Pulitzer Prize winners David Del Tredici, Lewis Spratlan, and Ned Rorem with groups including the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, Ensemble 21, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Music from China, Perspectives Ensemble, The Society for New Music, the Glass Farm Ensemble, and the Music at the Anthology series. Of particular note, he led Elliot Carter’s Double Concerto at the Library of Congress as part of Mr. Carter’s 100th-year celebration and the premiere of Dean Drummond’s opera Cafe Buffe with Newband and the Harry Partch Instruments.

As a recording artist Maestro Hostetter has released 52 discs commercially and these have been widely praised with honors including a Grammy Award, a Downbeat Critics Award, two Top-Five Annual Listings in the NY Times by chief critic Anthony Tommasini, a best of 2014 listing in Fanfare Magazine, and five stars for performance in the BBC Music Magazine. They have also received numerous strong reviews in Grammaphon Magazine, the American Record Guide, and Opera News. Artists with whom he has collaborated include jazz greats Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, and Joe Lovano, sopranos Heidi Grant Murphy and Carol Wilson, cellist Carter Brey, the Aureole Ensemble, the Perspectives Ensemble, members of Metropolitan Opera and NY Philharmonic, and numerous chamber artists and soloists. His extensive discography includes recordings on labels including Telarc, Koch, Mode, CRI, Albany, Tzadick, Naxos, Argo, Decca, Delos, Deutsche-Grammaphon, New World, Polygram, Pro-Arte, RCA Victor, Sony Classical, and Warner Brothers.

In the world of education he has led programs for Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center Institute, and the Manhattan School of Music’s Graduate Orchestral Performance Program. He has presented master classes at the Mannes School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, the Juilliard School of Music, the University of Michigan, William Paterson University, and the University of San Paulo, and spent two years as a visiting professor at Shanghai Normal University. He has presented conducting workshops for the NY Philharmonic/NY Pops/ NY City Board of Education, the ASTA National Conference, the national MENC Conference in Nashville, and the NJ Music Educators Association, and has also conducted numerous honors and all-state orchestras throughout the United States. He recently authored a new hybrid text utilizing cutting edge technology entitled On Music Conducting: Connect to the Sound, which is published by Connect4Edcuation and has been adopted by numerous universities nationally.

An avid instrumentalist, Maestro Hostetter performed as a percussionist/timpanist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with whom he toured and recorded extensively as well as with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Little Orchestra Society, Philharmonia Virtuosi and many others. He has appeared on numerous movie soundtracks and jingles, as well as over ten Broadway productions.

He holds degrees in performance from the Florida State University and the Juilliard School of Music and has appeared in master classes with Joseph Gifford, Leonard Slatkin, and Larry Rachleff. Currently, he lives in Columbus, GA with his wife violist Elizabeth Hostetter and daughters Vivian and Asha.