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14th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

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detail from a portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, painted in 1782 by his brother in law Joseph Lange. Mozart wrote the C minor piano concerto in the winter of 1785-86

detail from a portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, painted in 1782 by his brother in law Joseph Lange. Mozart wrote the C minor piano concerto in the winter of 1785-86

This month Roger Wiesmeyer and an ensemble of local musicians – many of them members of the Nashville Symphony – will perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as Roger has done every year at this time since 2003.

This year’s concerts will take place:

Friday, January 15, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Sunday, January 31, 6 pm, at Edgehill United Methodist Church, 1502 Edgehill Avenue, Nashville.

This year’s concert features the C minor piano concerto, K. 491 conducted by Vinay Parameswaran with Roger as piano soloist. Admission is $10, and all proceeds benefit The Contributor.

Roger Wiesmeyer, piano, with Keith Nicholas, cello; Kathryn Ladner, flute; and Jeremy Williams, violin ~ November 19, 2005, W.O. Smith Music School, Nashville

Roger Wiesmeyer, piano, with Keith Nicholas, cello; Kathryn Ladner, flute; and Jeremy Williams, violin ~ November 19, 2005, W.O. Smith Music School, Nashville ~ photo by Kelley Bell

I’ve already written about this program here on Off the Podium: Roger performed the C minor piano concerto back in November here at Schermerhorn as part of the Nashville Symphony’s OnStage series of free chamber music concerts, and also at W.O. Smith Music School in our OffStage series (also of free chamber music concerts!). In those performances I accompanied Roger on second piano playing a reduction of the orchestra part on the first and third movements, and a trio of Nashville Symphony musicians performed the second movement with Roger in an arrangement by Mozart’s younger contemporary Johann Nepomunk Hummel. The November performances were a sort of “warm-up” or “test-run” of the concerto for Roger – he will be performing it this month with full orchestra.

with Roger after a performance of Mozart's C minor piano concerto, November 19, 2015, W.O. Smith Music School, Nashville ~ photo by Kelley Bell

with Roger after a performance of Mozart’s C minor piano concerto, November 19, 2015, W.O. Smith Music School, Nashville ~ photo by Kelley Bell

Roger is going to perform the C minor piano concerto twice on each concert. I asked him if this wasn’t pretty unusual for a classical music concert.

“Yes! It is. You know, Leopold Stokowski did that. He was the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1915-1940 and, especially if he would program a contemporary piece that people really hated, he would just turn around and do it again!

“Fortunately, I don’t think anyone is really going to hate this piece. But there’s a lot to take in, and a lot to give out, in my case. So I’m looking forward to getting to play it twice in one go.

Everyone performing in this concert – Roger and all of the musicians in the orchestra – donate their services.

“Everybody plays for free.” said Roger. “And I’m very excited this year: the Associate Conductor of the Nashville Symphony, Vinay Parameswaran, is going to be conducting.”

This year’s “Mozart Bash” concerts will benefit local street newspaper The Contributor, which has the highest circulation of any street newspaper of its kind on North America at more than 100,000 copies per month.

“What The Contributor does, is what I try to do with my Mozart concert.” said Roger. “To share Mozart with people that might not like Mozart – it might not be on their radar – but they want to support The Contributor, or they go to the church that I’m playing at, or they heard about it on the radio and they want to come for the cake. There are many ways to get people in the door and then they can discover what I discovered in my twenties: that Mozart is just about the most beautiful thing ever.”


1 Comment

  1. […] Roger Wiesmeyer’s multi-faceted role in the Nashville classical music scene has long been a important presence in our community. Born in Nashville, Roger grew up here and attended Hillsboro High School and Blair School of Music before going away to school at Curtis Institute and on to positions in the Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Honolulu symphonies. He returned to Nashville in 2001 to become the Nashville Symphony’s english horn player. In addition to his work as an oboist and english horn player, Roger is an accomplished pianist, and he has presented annual concerts to celebrate Mozart’s birthday every year since 2003. […]

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