This weekend marks the return of the Midsummer Mozart Festival, slightly scaled down from years before, but resuming after a year’s hiatus following the death of the festival’s founder and longtime conductor, George Cleve. Concertmaster Robin Hansen says they’re continuing the all-Mozart programming, in two venues with which they have a long history.
There’s more information at the Midsummer Mozart Festival website.
“After George passed away, lots of people, every time, whenever I saw them, would say ‘So what are you going to do? Are you going to keep going? You have to keep going!’,” Robin Hansen says. “We decided that we would go ahead and do a festival this summer, because we didn’t want to skip another year. Because it’s so important – this festival has had 41 seasons, consecutively, no matter what, and we wanted to continue without a long break.” They’re ramping up with a two-concert festival this Saturday evening in Sonoma, and Monday in San Francisco. “We are going to do a program of Symphony no. 29 in A major, which is for strings, two oboes and two horns. We decided to play Divertimento Number 11 in D major, which is for strings, one oboe and two horns. It can be done with one person on a part, but we’re going to do it with a chamber orchestra size, bigger string section.” She’ll be joined by violist Elizabeth Prior for Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. One venue is familiar – Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, where they’ve frequently been a part of their free, weekly Noontime Concert Series. The other venue is one that they long ago had an association with, Buena Vista Winery. “The festival used to play at before my time, and I’ve been concertmaster for 20 years,” Hansen says. “I contacted Buena Vista, and they said, ‘People are still asking when is Mozart coming back?’ And it had been maybe almost 25 years since we had played there.”