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Posted on Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:42 a.m.

Ann Arbor Symphony's Mozart Birthday Bash to focus on less familiar works

By Susan Isaacs Nisbett


Yehonatan Berick

Composers have long waxed eloquent on the subject of Mozart, as Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Music Director Arie Lipsky will tell you. Rossini, he noted, called Mozart “the admiration of my youth, the frustration of my mature years, and the happy consolation of my old age.”

Most of us, however, don’t have to put our oeuvre up against Wolfgang Amadeus’ output—and so our encounters with him are pure pleasure, from youth through working years to golden years. And we can thank our lucky stars that the Divine Mr. M was a January baby. A Mozart Birthday Bash, such as the A2SO offers each year—complete with party treats at the end—is just the sunny elixir to eradicate the frigid winter gray that is January in Michigan.

“Upbeat energy; genius; eternal youth—that’s why we do our Mozart concert every January,” Lipsky said in a recent phone call. “And in the end we get some chocolate. What else do we need?”

Well, one might suggest unlimited Mozart repertoire, to keep things fresh. But that, too, is no problem. Saturday at the Michigan Theater, when the A2SO takes the stage to celebrate the birthday boy, it’s with pieces, from among Mozart’s more than 600 catalogued works, that the orchestra has not presented.

“Everything we’re doing is new,” Lipsky said.

The 2013 celebration features the overture to Mozart’s opera “La Clemenza di Tito;” the Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Minor, with guest soloist Yehonatan Berick; the “Serenata Notturna;” and the Symphony No. 25, the “Haffner.” And, as a bonus, we hear from Papa Mozart when A2SO principal trumpet William Campbell takes the stage for Leopold Mozart’s Concerto for Trumpet in D Major.


"Mozart Birthday Bash"

  • Who: The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Arie Lipsky, music director. Featured soloists include Yehonatan Berick, violin; and William Campbell, trumpet.
  • What: Annual celebration of Mozart, featuring works the A2SO has not previously performed.
  • Where: Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St.
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.
  • How much: $10-$58, available from or 734-994-4801.
“In previous years,” Lipsky said, “we have usually presented one genre in which Mozart worked. Here we highlight the variety. He composed in so many genres, and in so many of them he defined the genre, whether it was symphony, opera, concerto or serenade. The serenades were the Muzak of his time. But when Mozart deals with Muzak, it becomes a masterpiece.”

Trumpet concerto

Of all the pieces on Saturday’s Mozart Birthday Bash bill, perhaps the least frequently heard is Leopold Mozart’s trumpet concerto. It’s a virtuoso piece that will showcase the skills of a performer like A2SO principal trumpet (and University of Michigan trumpet professor) William Campbell, a player who dazzles from the last row of the orchestra as much as he will surely do from the first.

We asked Campbell to share a few thoughts about the piece:


William Campbell

‘The concerto was written in 1762, which was the last year that Leopold did much composing. I'm not sure it's the culmination of his compositional prowess. but it is as beautiful a work of his that I've heard.

‘The concerto is unusual in that it is only two movements. As you know, most of the concertos written in the baroque or classical period had three movements to them. From a difficulty standpoint, I'm kind of glad he left it at two. :)

“It is similar to his other compositions in its simplicity and straight- forwardness. Leopold, it seems to me, was not a very pretentious or highbrow composer, as some of his compositions called for hurdy-gurdies, bagpipes and even shotguns. Thankfully he left the shotgun part out of his trumpet concerto!

‘The first movement reminds me of a mother's love in its simple beauty. When I play it, I think of my mom and her unyielding love for me. The second movement is more like a mother's joy as she plays all the simple games that mothers play with their toddlers.”



Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Go A2SO! One of the gems of Ann Arbor!


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

PS - Especially the Mozart chocolate afterwards!

James Toy

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

The Birthday Bashes are always fun! The Violin Concerto is in G Major.