For four decades, the Midsummer Mozart Festival, under the baton of legendary conductor Maestro George Cleve, has delighted Bay Area music lovers. And this year the all-Mozart concert series returns to Santa Clara’s Mission Church on July 17 and 25.
“We’ve played there many, many times in the past and we’re delighted to be back,” says Midsummer Mozart Executive Director Peter Susskind. “People like to come there. It’s a gorgeous church and the parking is easy. We always do very well when we perform in Santa Clara.”
Reportedly the only music festival in North America dedicated exclusively to Mozart, Midsummer Mozart got its start during conversations at a rehearsal of “Abduction from the Seraglio” that Cleve was conducting for the San Francisco Spring Opera in the early 1970s. (Coincidentally, Maestro Cleve conducted the first Midsummer Mozart program when he was 39).
“Mozart’s music is in a class by itself — his emotional palette…is inexhaustible,” Cleve told Bay Area music critic Cheryl North in a 2009 interview.
The July 18 program also includes the eternally popular “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (K.525),” the exquisite Wind serenade in C minor (K.384), and pianist Audrey Vardanega performing Mozart’s piano concerto in E-Flat (K.449). When at 14 she debuted with Midsummer Mozart in 2010, Vardanega was the youngest soloist ever to appear with the festival.
The following week, July 25, in addition to the dramatic Symphony No.39, audiences will enjoy Symphony 31 (“Paris”), as well the virtuosity of Japanese violinist Mayuko Kamio.
Concerts are at 8:00 p.m. on July 18 and 25 at the Mission Santa Clara Church at Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real. The church is at the end of the campus’ main drive off El Camino. The concert series is also presented in San Francisco, Berkeley and Sonoma. For information and tickets visit www.midsummermozart.org.
Watch a video of Maestro Cleve conducting the Swedish Radio Orchestra in Symphony 39 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiuagVvS3dk.