Walter Bitner

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16th Annual Mozart Birthday Concerts

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ~ posthumous portrait by Barbara Krafft, 1819 (click images to enlarge)

This month, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations to honor the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 261st birthday. This annual tradition features an ensemble of local musicians – 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 2018 concerts will take place:

Friday, January 19, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Monday, January 22, 7 pm, at Edgehill United Methodist Church, 1502 Edgehill Avenue, Nashville.

This year’s concerts feature:

Evening Mood (Abendempfindung, K. 523)
The Violet (Das Veilchen, K. 476)
Longing for Spring (Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling, K. 596)
Claire Boling, soprano
Roger Wiesmeyer, piano

Laudamus Te from Great Mass in C minor, K. 427
Claire Boling, soprano
Mozart Birthday Festival Orchestra
Matthew Phelps, conductor

Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat Major, K. 595
Roger Wiesmeyer, piano
Mozart Birthday Festival Orchestra
Matthew Phelps, conductor

These special events will benefit the Children’s Kindness Network, who are at the forefront of countering bullying and teaching kindness and empathy to our youngest citizens.

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15th Annual Mozart Birthday Concerts

(l to r) Nashville Symphony musicians Gil Perel & Roger Wiesmeyer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. For the 15th consecutive year, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations in honor of the Austrian wunderkind’s birthday. As in years past, this year’s events feature an ensemble of local musicians – including members of the Nashville Symphony, free-lance professionals, and amateurs – who will perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Amadeus.

This year’s concerts will take place:

Friday, January 13, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Monday, January 23, 7 pm, at Edgehill United Methodist Church, 1502 Edgehill Avenue, Nashville.

This year’s concerts feature:

Piano Sonata in B flat Major, K. 333
Roger Wiesmeyer, piano solo

Bassoon Concerto in B flat Major, K. 191/186e
Gil Perel, bassoon solo
Mozart Birthday Festival Orchestra

Proceeds will benefit the Mary Parrish Center for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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14th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

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.

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Matthew Halls on J.S. Bach and the Oregon Bach Festival

Part 2 of 3

Continued from An Interview with Matthew Halls (Part 1)

Matt-Halls-31

I asked Matthew Halls what he felt about dramatizations of the Bach Passions – for example, the stagings of the St. Matthew and St. John Passions by Peter Sellars with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Matthew Halls: I have many different feelings on this. The work that Peter Sellars did with the Berlin Philharmonic is wonderful – it’s inspiring, it gives you a new insight. I also saw an incredible realization by Deborah Warner (with the English National Opera), and Katie Mitchell’s done some work in this field as well. There seems to have been a trend in recent years to give dramatic presentations of Bach’s great sacred works.

Fundamentally, I have nothing against this. Any way we can present music from the distant past in a way which is going to make the presentation of the ideas more vivid for someone coming to see the piece for the first time: that gets a big gold star in my book! That a wonderful way of helping and reinterpreting the music of the past.

I think that it comes with the acknowledgement that I’m not quite sure what Bach would have made of it. But at the same time – this is the 21st century and we face different challenges. As long as the integrity of the music survives then I’m really interested and excited by all sorts of approaches to the music.

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Roger Wiesmeyer Plays Mozart

Roger Wiesmeyer

Roger Wiesmeyer

“I just adore it.” says Roger Wiesmeyer, speaking of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491. “I’ve never played it on piano before. I’ve sat in the orchestra for performances of this concerto three or four times and every time it just completely captures my imagination, for at least the week after – I’ll have at least two weeks of living with it and thinking about it all the time. There is this incredible mood that Mozart casts with this piece.”

A few days ago Roger and I sat down after a rehearsal to talk about this piece, which we will be collaborating together to perform this week.  Roger will be performing the solo piano part – the part originally played by Amadeus himself – and I am playing a reduction of the orchestra’s part on second piano for the first and third movements.  The second movement – a slow Larghetto – will be performed by Roger joined by Nashville Symphony musicians Kate Ladner, flute; Jeremy Williams, violin; and Keith Nicholas, cello in a quartet arrangement by Johann Nepomunk Hummel, an Austrian composer and pianist who was a contemporary of Beethoven.

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An Interview with Matthew Halls

Matthew Halls (photo credit Eric Richmond)

Matthew Halls (photo credit Eric Richmond)

Part 1 of 3

This week Matthew Halls is in Nashville to conduct the Nashville Symphony in four performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos, complete in one concert. The performances will be held October 22-25 and feature Mark Niehaus, trumpet, and Jun Iwasaki, violin. Tickets are available here.

British conductor Matthew Halls is one of the most versatile musicians in classical music today.  In the early years of his career he worked as a keyboard player and early music conductor but he is known today for his dynamic work in music of all periods. Matthew Halls is Artistic Director of the Oregon Bach Festival, and conducts symphony orchestras and opera all over the world.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Matthew and talk about music and his career for an hour this week before rehearsals began – here follows a transcript from our conversation.

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Is It A Fiddle Or A Violin?

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(l to r) David Coe and Matt Combs perform for a group of students attending Is It A Fiddle Or A Violin? at Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Today our unique program Is It A Fiddle Or A Violin? – a collaboration with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – begins its ninth season.

Targeted at students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade, this free two-hour program provides children and their chaperones with tours of both Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and features a musical presentation and dialogue by two local musicians about the employment of the violin (or fiddle!) in both classical and country music.  Thousands of children have attended this program over the years, in what are often their first experiences at two of Nashville’s most important cultural venues.

David Coe and Matt Combs – two local musicians who have been with the program since the beginning – largely co-wrote the featured presentation which gives the program its title.  I sat down with David and Matt earlier this year to talk about Is It A Fiddle Or A Violin? (more…)