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"Happy Birthday, Genius!": Mozart Madness Comes To Pensacola Symphony Orchestra

The Pensacola Symphony moves  to the First United Methodist Church this Saturday for it's annual celebration of Mozart's birthday.  The concert, which starts at 7:30, features flutist Stephanie Riegle and harpist Katie Ott in Mozart's concerto for Flute and Harp, as well as his 34th Symphony.  Music Director Peter Rubardt and Dr. Hedi Salanki stopped by the studios to share some thoughts on the performance.

Hedi Salanki: Happy birthday, genius. Mozart’s music is so perfect it’s almost impossible to talk about it.

"Mozart just makes us complete musicians." Peter Rubardt

Peter Rubardt: 260 years old and every year we get to celebrate his birthday with a beautiful concert at the First United Methodist church. The symphony we were just listening to is 34, it’s in C-major, a special key for Mozart. If you think about some of the big pieces he wrote in C-major, the Jupiter Symphony, for example, the Linz symphony, big pieces with trumpets and a lot of grand style and a very festive feeling to it.

Another interesting thing about this piece is the second movement. Mozart loved the viola. The viola is the string instrument the lies in between the violins and the cellos and in this movement he actually divides the violas so there are two viola lines that balance the two violin lines and it makes a particularly rich sound.

HS: How old was he when he composed this piece?

PR: Early 20s, which, for Mozart, is like well into middle age. It’s amazing the facility, the genius, he brings into his music.

HS: he composed for every genre there is.

PR: Isn't it amazing? He wrote, like, great operas, solo piano music, great symphonies, chamber music, vocal repertoires.

HS: Every single instrument.

PR: Every single instrument, and even a few obscure ones!

HS: Well, I always love when you feature your players, in concerts, as soloists and this will be a very special one.

PR: I love that too.  You know I get to know them so well, we all get to know each other so well in the orchestra situation,  and to see them in the light of a soloist is just very gratifying, for the audience and for me and for their colleagues.  So Stephanie Riegle, our principal flutist and Katie Ott, our harpist, will be joining us for the “Flute and Harp Concerto.”

HS: The combination of these instruments is rather unique, even for Mozart.

PR: Mozart spent time in Paris in his early 20s and there he met a Parisian aristocrat who was a very prominent flute player and the count commissioned Mozart for this concerto, to play with his daughter, who was a harp player: hence the unusual combination of instruments. Only Mozart, I think could combine those instruments in a piece that has so much sparkle and grace.

HS: I always tell my students that Mozart looks so innocent but when you play it, it is the most difficult thing to do it well.

PR: It is the most difficult, but it’s also just the most gratifying and the most enjoyable. I think all of the players in the orchestra look forward to this concert as much as any concert that we play. Mozart just makes us complete musicians. He really is a composer who is worth celebrating every year.

That was Pensacola Symphony Music Director Peter Rubardt talking about the Mozart Madness concert this Saturday at First United Methodist Church.  More information & tickets,  435-2533, or go online pensacolasymphony.com.