Mostly Mozart's 45th season is packed with orchestra concerts, visually stunning operas in concert, dance performances, and intimate late-night recitals, all exploring some of Mozart's most beloved works: from the first-ever Festival performance of Don Giovanni, to the Gran Partita and the Requiem: along with music by composers he has inspired, from Stravinsky to emerging names of the 21st century.
The 2011 Mostly Mozart Festival kicks off with gala performances on August 2 _3. Ren_e and Robert Belfer Music Director Louis Langr_e leads the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, featuring violinist Christian Tetzlaff and violist Antoine Tamestit in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major. The August 2 concert will be broadcast nationally on Live From Lincoln Center (check local PBS station listings for dates and times).
Through the years, the Festival has examined the world of Mozart through contemporary eyes: that is, from the viewpoint of his own contemporaries as well as today's artists. Composers whose lives and work have been inspired by Mozart have formed the basis for programs with often fascinating juxtapositions of time, place, and style. "We really don't isolate contemporary music in the continuum of the last five centuries of music," says Lincoln Center's Ehrenkranz Artistic Director Jane Moss. "The other part of this is that Mozart is a contemporary composer," she adds, in the sense that every conductor and every performer approaches the repertoire in different ways, offering each audience a completely new experience.
This season, the Mostly Mozart Festival shines a spotlight on Igor Stravinsky. The 20th century Stravinsky is by no means a random choice, says Moss, noting that the strong neoclassical aspect of his music from the 1920s to the early 1950s drew upon Mozart and other classical masters. "Stravinsky relates beautifully to Mozart," she says. "It's a wonderful example of the connection to contemporary composers going on in the Festival."
An all-Stravinsky program on August 8 marks the beginning of a major collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which will be in residence at the Festival. The program will explore the breadth of the composer's own influence. "He was so many people, so many composers in one lifetime, and a major progenitor of later 20th-century movements," says Claire Chase, ICE's executive director. That connection between composers over the centuries will be evident on August 11, when ICE takes on its first performance of Mozart's Gran Partita, paired with Schoenberg's Kammersymphonie No. 1, and the Mostly Mozart debut of Matthias Pintscher performing his work Occultation. The Ensemble is also delighted to welcome legendary pianist Peter Serkin to the August 8 program in Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Winds.
ICE will be in residence for three years, and this season will apply its flexible roster of 33 musicians and its innovative, thought-provoking programs to "double bill" evenings, with concerts in Alice Tully Hall followed by late-night (10:30 p.m.) salon-style events at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Chase describes the "full meal" available for audiences on August 8, when they can follow up the main-house program with a stroll around the corner to A Little Night Music concert for a different take on Stravinsky, featuring the New York premiere of the composer's arrangement of some of Bach's Preludes and Fugues, edited by Christopher Hog wood, along with the U.S. premiere of Michael Finnissy's untitled piece to honor Igor Stravinsky. On August 11, Mozart's Gran Partita at Alice Tully will be followed at the Kaplan Penthouse with Jonathan Harvey's Serenade in homage to Mozart, a New York premiere.
Music Director Langr_e, now in his ninth season of shaping a nuanced and stylistically flexible Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, will conduct eight concerts in Avery Fisher Hall. Soprano Christine Brewer will be featured on August 12 _13 in Mozart's "Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?" Langr_e then turns his attention to Stravinsky with performances of Symphony in C on August 19 _20, as pianist Nelson Freire makes his Festival debut. The Festival concludes August 26 _27 with Mozart's Requiem, offering the U.S. debut of soprano Julia Lezhneva, and Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony.
This season brings the Mostly Mozart debut of conductors skilled in both classical and contemporary repertoire. Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, who is gaining international acclaim for his ability to move easily between early music and up-to-the-moment works, will appear August 5 & 6 in a program featuring violinist Joshua Bell. Heras-Casado also collaborates with ICE to conduct the all-Stravinsky concert on August 8. Jonathan Nott, principal conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and a frequent guest conductor with the world's major orchestras, will debut with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in a combined program of Mozart and Stravinsky on August 16- 17, with guest pianist Joho Phojonen.
A much-anticipated Mostly Mozart debut will bring Ivšn Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra to the Rose Theater August 4 and 6 for staged concert performances of Don Giovanni. Amazingly, one of the most popular of Mozart's operas has never been performed at the Festival. Fischer will conduct and direct his acclaimed concert version, with staging that is described as a stunning synthesis of music and imagery. Fischer also leads the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in an all-Mozart program on August 9 _10, including the rarely performed Vesperae solennes de confessore and Ave verum corpus, with soprano Lucy Crowe making her Festival debut.
Baroque opera returns to the Mostly Mozart Festival when Nicholas McGegan leads the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Handel's Orlando on August 14. This concert version features Clint van der Linde in the title role, with Dominique Labelle, Susanne Ryd_n, Diana Moore, and Wolf Matthias Friedrich.
A regular of the Mostly Mozart family, the Mark Morris Dance Group will perform Festival Dance, and the Emerson String Quartet returns on August 15. The Festival welcomes the Takšcs Quartet for a late-night at the Kaplan Penthouse on August 6, followed by an Alice Tully Hall program on August 7 with pianist Andreas Haefliger joining in for Dvorˇšk's Piano Quintet in A major.
Throughout the Festival's 45th season, audiences will be able to enjoy the now nearly completed renovations of Lincoln Center's campus, once again meeting by the dancing waters of the plaza fountain, finding their way around more easily with new-and-improved signage and access to venues, and even walking barefoot on the grass lawn atop the new Lincoln restaurant. An inviting setting to linger in before and after unexpected musical encounters; it's exactly what a Mostly Mozart summer should be.