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Monday, June 20, 2016

Superconductor 2016 Summer Festival Preview: Mostly Mozart

For its 50th birthday, Lincoln Center pulls out all the stops.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Before Mostly Mozart came into existence half a century ago, the idea of staying in the city in its hottest months to listen to classical music performances was practically nonexistent. Birthed in the airy confines of what was then Philharmonic Hall at the newly constructed Lincoln Center, the Mostly Mozart Festivl rapidly grew into a cultural oasis for New Yorkers in the month of August. It remains today a celebration of all that is beautiful and good.

It is with that legacy in mind that Lincoln Center and music director Louis Langrée programmed this year’s festival, a rich and kaleidoscopic offering that will allow Ttendees to experience the very finest in 18th century music with a heavy focus on the titular genius whose death at the age of just 35 still leaves listeners wondering what might have been created had Mozart lived to have a “Late” period.

Here are the highlights for Mostly Mozart 2016:

Following a free preview concert on July 25, the Festival proper opens with The Illuminated Heart (July 26-27) a curated program of highlights from Mozart's operas with an all star cast. But there's more here than just a concert. Singers like Christine Goerke, Matthew Polenzani and Peter Mattei--the evening will be accompanied by a special video installation by Netia Jones, created for the occasion.

Opera is also the focus on August 15 and 18, when the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra comes to town for concert performances of Così fan tutte and Idomoneo, each with stellar casts. Idomoneo is here under the baton of period instrument expert René Jacons, whose Mozart cycle for harmonia mundi offers fascinating and probing accounts of the composer’s operatic oeuvre. 

In the most extraordinary event of this festival, Lincoln Center-goers are invited to raise their voices as part of The Public Domain, an immersive. Hiram work commissioned for the festival’s anniversary by Pulitzer winning composer David Lang. This is a free event but you have to sign up and attend some rehearsals if you want to participate. August 13.

Equally ambitious is this year’s 50 for 50 project, a plan to offer new compositions commissioned especially for the Festival. In addition to concerts at the nearby Merkin Concert Hall, the International Contemporary Ensemble will fill Lincoln Center Plaza with fifteen free fifteen-minute micro-concerts, startling tourists and security guards alike.

Of course it wouldn't be Mostly Mozart without the Festival’s signature offering, a series of orchestral and choral concerts, most of them under the sure leadership of Mr. Langrée, featuring the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in the specially reconfigured confines of (what is now) David Geffen Hall. The guest list is a starry one this year, with audience favorites like pianist Richard Goode and violinist Joshua Bell appearing alongside Leif Ove Andsnes and clarinetist Martin Fröst.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.