Music Preview: Nashville gears up for 12th annual Mozart Birthday Concert

mozartxWho would have guessed that Roger Wiesmeyer’s annual Mozart Birthday Concert would become the hottest ticket during the coldest days of January?

Last year, many Mozart fans who attended the event at Edgehill United Methodist Church found themselves crammed into a standing-room only hall. This year, the accommodations promise to be a little less sardine-like.

“We’ve decided to hold two concerts this year because of popular demand,” says Wiesmeyer. “People will have a choice about when to attend.”

Wiesmeyer will present his 12th annual Mozart concert at noon this Friday, Jan. 17, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Pike. He will repeat it at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at Edgehill United Methodist, 1502 Edgehill Ave. Proceeds from the two concerts will benefit the churches and The Contributor newspaper.

rogerxWiesmeyer is best known in Music City as the long-time principal English horn player of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, but he is also an accomplished pianist. He’s often heard performing piano as a member of the Alias Chamber Ensemble. During last year’s Mozart concert, he branched out and performed his first Mozart piano concerto.

For his upcoming concert, Wiesmeyer will join the Mozart Festival Orchestra to perform another concerto – Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414. Mozart composed this work in 1782, not long after the death of his friend Johann Christian Bach. As a tribute to the “London Bach,” Mozart quoted a theme from J.C. Bach’s La calamita de cuori in the concerto’s second movement. Wiesmeyer will make his conducting debut in this performance, leading from the keyboard in the time-honored style of Amadeus.

The other big piece on the program will be Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat major, K. 364. Violinist Erin Hall and violist Chris Farrell – both Nashville Symphony musicians – will join the Mozart Festival Orchestra to perform this work.

Wiesmeyer will play one solo piano work – Mozart’s Fantasy in D minor, K. 397. “I’ll perform this after the concerto and before the Sinfonia Concertante,” Wiesmeyer says. “D minor seemed like as good a way as any to get from A major [the concerto] to the unrelated key of E-flat major [sinfonia].”

Mozart fans who attend Friday’s concert at St. George’s will enjoy ample parking. Fans who attend the Edgehill performance will get to eat birthday cake.

IF YOU GO

12th annual Mozart Birthday Concert takes place at noon Friday, Jan. 17 at St. George Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Pike, and 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at Edgehill United Methodist, 1502 Edgehill Ave. Admission is $5 and all proceeds go to the churches and to The Contributor newspaper.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.