The Midsummer Mozart Festival kicks off this Thursday evening in Berkeley, with a piano recital at Freight and Salvage. There’s a literary and musical event in San Francisco on Friday, and then three orchestral concerts, in San Jose, Sonoma, and Cazadero. Paul Schrage, who was conductor last year, has been named Artistic Director of the festival, which was founded by his teacher George Cleve in 1974.

There’s more information about the events at the Midsummer Mozart Festival website.

The new artistic director says he’d like to build on the past successes of the festival. “It is very well known as an orchestra festival. It has a very good orchestra that is just loved by the audience. So we’re keeping that for sure, and that’s the heart and soul of the festival. Beyond that, though, we’re growing to all things Mozart.” So the opening concert features pianist Daniel Glover (and after the intermission, guest pianist Thomas Hansen, who’ll join him for the Sonata for Four Hands), and the next day, there’s Words, Wine, and Music, with writer Stephanie Cowell, author of Marrying Mozart. “It’s a historical novel about how Mozart first courted one of these four sisters, and then his interest went to the other one. And, sort of early story of Mozart as a 21 year old man.” That event takes place at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco. Then the orchestral concerts are slated for San Jose, Sonoma, and the music camp at Cazadero from Saturday through Monday. Schrage is following in the footsteps of his teacher, George Cleve, whose love for Mozart was at the center of the festival’s first 40 years. “The heart of the orchestra, and the sound of the orchestra that he really developed and cultivated is not going to change,” Schrage says. “And I, having studied with him, approach Mozart from a similar artistic standpoint…I certainly felt that sort of responsibility last year, because it was my first year. But I think for this year, though, I’m sort of really focused on the future and the health of the festival and the growth of the festival.”

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