My Way to Mozart: Jackson Ward’s sidewalk directions, 2016 (Photo by Harry Kollatz Jr.)
They needed a bigger venue.
With more than 100 musicians convening to bring to life many of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions, the Notorious W.A.M. lives again this weekend at the fourth annual Mozart Festival, its second iteration in Jackson Ward. It all happens Sunday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. And these concerts are free.
Artwork by Katie McBride
The festival’s organizer through Classical Revolution RVA, violinist Ellen Cockerham, says, “We love making this happen in Jackson Ward. It’s a really good fit. Basically, this year, it’s bigger and better. For instance, you’ll notice this year we’re doing opera scenes at Charm School [ice cream shop] with University of Richmond voice students, and a full opera, 'Bastien and Bastienna,' at the Coalition Theater after that.”
You can see the full festival schedule here.
Jackson Ward will come alive with the sounds of the wild rock star of classical music — though classical music is resplendent with wild rock stars, which is why we remember many of them by one name. At this weekend's festival, you’ll also find a Wolfie selfie station where you can pose with a Mozart facsimile. My guess is that somebody will be walking around dressed in the Mozartian mode, too.
There will be plentiful opportunities to buy at the the event. You’ll find at Big Secret a fully stocked Mozart pop-up headquarters. Black Hand Coffee has created a special Mo’s Joe; Sugar & Twine provides music note cookies; Chop Suey Books brings Mozart books; and, from For the Love of Chocolate, Mozart chocolate candies, along with classical vinyl from Steady Sounds and event T-shirts. Also on sale: the festival’s poster, based on an idea by musician/promoter/science commentator Prabir Mehta with original artwork by Katie McBride.
Making carrot flutes outside Art 180’s Atlas gallery during the 2016 Mozart Fest (Photo by Harry Kollatz Jr.)
The session for children at Gallery5 between noon and 3 p.m. includes an “instrument petting zoo,” where the youngsters can handle trombones and clarinets and even sign up for lessons. And there’ll Mozart Popsicle-stick puppets and carrot flutes to make. Cockerham adds, “We’ll have a musical story tie for the kid, where we tell them what Mozart was doing at their age and perform work he was composing then.” Following a recital of “little, tiny violinists,” and depending on the weather, the kids will parade playing kazoos and other instruments, marching down the street to Charm School to see the opera scenes.
Mozart Festival 2016: Michael Knowles conducting the Richmond Cello Orchestra at Gallery5 (Photo by Harry Kollatz Jr.)
So, yes, it’s Mozart, and you’ve heard a bunch of his music, whether or not you knew what you were hearing. If you do one thing during the festival, get to Candela Gallery early enough — it starts at 5 p.m., and it’ll be crowded — to see Chia-Hsuan Lin, the Richmond Symphony’s associate conductor, lead a full orchestra. Adrian Pintea and HyoJoo Uh, also of the RSO, will anchor the Sinfonia Concertante, Mozart’s concerto for violin and viola. Then, a chorus will join the orchestra for selections from the mighty, mighty Requiem. What you’re hearing, and why the hairs on your arms may stand up, isn’t just musicians going through the notes. Your body is absorbing the consciousness, the being, of Mozart. This is his life, his knowledge of the world, his experience translated down through more than 200 years, and by the talents and skill of these particular musicians, at this exact time, this way, and never again the same. Nor will you be.
The 2017 Mozart Festival kicks off in Jackson Ward on Sunday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Free. Find more details here.