Walter Bitner

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17th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

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This month, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations to honor the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 263rd birthday. This annual tradition features an ensemble of local musicians – often including members of the Nashville Symphony, free-lance professionals, and amateurs – who perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Amadeus, who was born on January 27, 1756.

The 2019 concerts will take place:

Friday, January 18, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Saturday, January 19, 3 pm, at W.O. Smith Music School1125 8th Avenue South, Nashville

This year’s concerts feature:

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Françoise Pierredon & Roger Wiesmeyer, piano four-hands

Adagio in C, K. 356
Dennis James, glass armonica

Adagio and Rondo, K. 617
Dennis James, glass armonica
Jessica Dunnavant, flute
Roger Wiesmeyer, oboe
Kris Wilkinson, viola
Keith Nicholas,

These special events will benefit the The Little Pantry That Could, who provide produce and shelf stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need.

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Roger Wiesmeyer

As we have gotten into a rhythm of doing at this time each year, Roger and I sat down to talk about Amadeus, his music, the upcoming concerts, and a few other random topics. Over a delicious spicy meal of deep-fried slices of eggplant, heaping plates of steaming Pad Thai, and many glasses of ice water, we traded a few jokes and anecdotes, and spoke about the unique repertoire this year’s birthday concerts will explore.

“I’m an orchestral oboist,” says Roger between bites of crunchy fried eggplant, “but I’ve found that playing it (the G minor symphony) arranged for piano four-hands is the most intimate experience I’ve had with this music! I don’t have to worry about matching the horn player’s pitch or if the conductor takes a tempo I don’t like!”

Roger and Françoise Pierredon will open each Mozart’s Birthday Concert with a performance of Amadeus’s monumental Symphony No. 40 in G minor, arranged for piano four-hands.

Françoise Pierredon received degrees in piano performance and clinical psychology in Paris. Her work with children with autism led her to study with Dr. Suzuki and Dr. Kataoka in Matsumoto, Japan, where she graduated from the Talent Education Institute. She has been a teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of Americas since 1984, teaching in various settings including an inner-city school, and at institutes in the United States, France, UK, Australia and Canada.

Françoise Pierredon

After getting a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2005, Françoise started working as a psychotherapist, most recently at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Therapeutic Preschool and the Healing Center where she specializes in the treatment of psychological trauma with children and their caregivers.  As a teacher her approach is centered on teaching students according to their needs and learning styles, nurturing both the ability and the desire to learn, and having a supportive and collaborative partnership with parents.

“I feel honored to play Mozart with Roger, having always felt a deep kinship with his appreciation of beauty and his capacity for awe.” said Françoise. “Studying and playing Mozart’s music have always been, for me, a study in joy. The joy of playing Mozart’s music and the joy of playing with Roger are combined into a celebration. ”


Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) c. 1785 by Joseph Duplessis

The glass armonica

U.S. founding father the astounding polymath Benjamin Franklin (yes that Benjamin Franklin) invented the musical instrument known as the glass armonica in 1761. The glass armonica is an instrument that emulates the sounds made by rubbing crystal bowls or goblets – an age-old parlor trick. My favorite illustration of this charming musical stunt is a scene from the wonderful 1983 film E La Nave Va (And The Ship Sails On) by Federico Fellini:




Ben refined this method of sound production into a bonafide musical instrument, and in the late eighteenth century, it had a brief heyday.  Mozart – who is known to have been in Paris at the same time as old Ben, although there is no evidence that they ever met – wrote the pieces we will hear next week for it, and several other notable composers also included the instrument somewhere in their catalogs including Beethoven, Donizetti, Saint-Saëns, and Richard Strauss.


Dennis James performs the Adagio in C, K. 356 for glass armonica by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, September 22, 2017, Zilkha Hall / Hobby Center For The Performing Arts, Houston, Texas


Dennis James is a multi-instrumentalist and historic preservationist who has presented historically informed live accompaniments for silent films on a variety of instruments (primarily organ) as well as specializing in performances on glass armonica and theremin since 1969. He has performed with many famous ensembles and at prestigious venues around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for Hollywood film scorings, and at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. We are incredibly fortunate that he will be traveling to Nashville to perform in the Mozart’s Birthday concerts this year, when he will perform Amadeus’s known works for glass armonica: the solo Adagio in C and the quintet Adagio and Rondo with four fine local musicians, including our host Roger.

Don’t miss this unique (and perhaps once in a lifetime) opportunity to hear these musical gems performed live by a master of the glass armonica!


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Mozart in Nashville is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to bringing classical music to those who might not otherwise encounter it. Since 2002, Mozart in Nashville has been providing free concerts in venues around Nashville, beginning with the Mozart’s Birthday Concerts and most recently with the Nashville Concerto Orchestra. All concerts are free and open to the public. Donations are accepted to help with performance expenses, and all additional proceeds benefit local charities specified at each concert. Past charities include The Contributor, The Zoe Maggipinto Brain Cancer Research Fund, and The Children’s Kindness Network.

For more information click here to visit the Mozart in Nashville website.

Proceeds from each Mozart’s Birthday Concert 2019 will be split between the venue and the The Little Pantry That Could. The suggested donation is $10 – no one will be turned away.


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  4. cmbitner says:

    I wish we could attend these concerts! They sound wonderful and unique.

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