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Celebrating All Things Mozart

Celebrating All Things Mozart

Not one but TWO leading Mozart performers will be coming to New Zealand to join the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in this country's only dedicated Mozart Festival. Robert Levin and Nicholas McGegan are recognised internationally as the foremost interpreters of this repertoire and their performances are so spontaneous and exciting that this will be an inspiring 5-day festival in Wellington in August.

Robert Levin thinks like Mozart and that comes from total immersion in Mozart's music. An outstanding pianist, Levin will showcase his prowess on both the concert Steinway and the 18th century fortepiano in recital and concert performance to celebrate the anniversary of Mozart's birth.

Richard Taruskin of The New York Times describes Levin as, "able to improvise exciting and absorbing cadenzas, ready to permute Mozart's ideas with stylish embellishments, generous with whimsical quotes and enjoyably astonishing tricks to keep listeners alive and alert."

Tom Manoff a classical music critic for America's National Public Radio, says of Levin, "In a time when many classical performances suffer from predictability, Robert Levin's piano recital was a model of inventiveness."

Audiences will get a chance to experience the fortepiano talent of Levin in recital on 10 August. His expertise will see a perfectly stylised 18th century improvisation connecting works to each other in a manner that Mozart intended. Levin believes that classical music cannot be performed or listened to successfully without understanding its cultural context.

The Mozart Fantasia concert on 11 August asks for the audience to write a two-bar Mozartean theme for Robert Levin's improvisation that will give the audience a chance to experience the exhilarating involvement that would have been part of performances in Mozart's time. [Details of how to do this below]

Levin explains how this will unfold, " I shall draw out the submitted Mozartean themes, the first four themes that sound convincingly of Mozart's time I will use to improvise a Mozartean fantasy, so the content is determined by the audience."

This concert will also introduce Nicholas McGegan conducting the NZSO with favourite Mozart works; the famous Symphony No 40 that represents the transition between the Classical and Romantic periods of music, the dramatic Piano Concerto No 24 and as a lively opener - Overture to the Magic Flute.

Robert Levin is also a recognised specialist in completion of unfinished Mozart and Classical period works. In particular his world-renowned completion of Mozart's Requiem. Fans of the film Amadeus will remember the final scenes in which the dying Mozart dictates part of the Requiem to his rival Salieri.. The drama and power of Mozart's final composition makes the Requiem one of the most popular works Mozart composed, one which he left unfinished at the time of his own death. Robert Levin's completion of this great work was first premiered in 1991 and has been performed and recorded world-wide many times.

Along with TOWER Voices NZ the NZSO present this dramatic and powerful Requiem music, under the direction of conductor Nicholas McGegan.

Nicholas McGegan is one of the world's leading authorities on Baroque and Classical repertoire. He has become a favorite guest of major orchestras and opera companies around the globe. Earlier this year he was honoured by the San Francisco Mayor, for his 20-yr service at the helm of America's pre-eminent period instrument orchestra, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO), who announced that 21st April was 'Nicholas McGegan Day' in the city.

The PBO Executive Director, Robert Birman says, "To inspire, to teach, to cajole, to move - not just an orchestra but an entire community - is a rare and beautiful talent. Nic's selflessness, caring, generosity and charm endear him to audiences and musicians alike around the globe."

McGegan was born in England, studied at Cambridge and Oxford Universities and has received an honorary degree from the Royal College of Music in London. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary professorship at Göttingen University. He has also been awarded the prestigious Handel Prize from the Halle Handel Festival in Germany, and in 1996 was presented with the Drottningholmsteaterns Vänners Hederstecken, the honorary medal of the Friends of the Drottningholm Theatre.

McGegan made the decision to pursue music before he went to Cambridge, "I had to decide whether to study music or classics. As a teenager I was fascinated with archaeology and used to take part in excavations. I remember freezing in tents and oceans of mud. I did learn how to use a pick-axe. However, music won in the end!"

About Mozart, he says," I first heard his music when I was about seven and first saw it on stage when I was about ten. For me his music is some of the most perfect music ever written. I love every note of it and it is pure heaven is to conduct it!."

Experience the passion of these two Mozart titans, 9 - 13th August, Wellington.


Forte Piano Recital
Thursday 10 August 7pm
Illott Theatre, Wellington Town Hall

Forte Piano specialist, Robert Levin will showcase the improvisational technique of performers that 18th Century listeners would expect. These lively works will present Mozart as if you were sitting in the room with him.

Capriccio for Piano in C Major K395
Four Preludes
Piano Sonata No 13 in b Flat K333
Piano Sonata No 4 in E Flat Major
Overture to the Abduction from the Seragilo K384
Piano Sonata No 10 in C Major

NZSO rocks to Mozart
Friday 11 August at 6.30pm WELLINGTON TOWN HALL Wellington

The Magic Flute Overture is the perfect scene-setter for this tempting concert to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Recognised Mozart specialist Robert Levin solos in one the most attractive of the piano concertos - No 24, K 491 - plus a touch of improvisation, and the famous 'Mozart 40', the great G minor Symphony, sets the seal on the evening.
Submit your theme! Members of the audience are invited to submit a two-bar theme for Robert Levin's improvisation. Themes will be accepted at the NZSO desk in the foyer of the Wellington Town Hall from 5.30pm until the end of the interval at this concert.

Nicholas McGegan- Conductor
Robert Levin- Piano

Mozart: Die Zauberflote Overture K 620
Mozart: Piano Concerto No 24 in C Minor K 491
Mozart: Symphony No 40 in G Minor K 550

Bergmann's Magic Flute

Saturday 12 August 8.30pm Embassy Theatre

One of the finest opera films ever mnade, this adaptation of 'The Magic Flute' was sund in Swedish and shot in an impressive studio reconstruction of Stockholm's famous 18th century Drottningholm Theatre. Bergman said that making this film "was the best time of my life: you can't imagine what it is like to have Mozart's music in the studio every day."


The spirit of the Enlightenment shines through Mozart's music including his Mauerische Trauermusik (Masonic funeral music), followed here by the eloquence, noble serenity and great tunes of the G minor Symphony No 29 - used for the main theme in the movie Amadeus. Then comes an unforgettable reminder of Mozart's fragile mortality with the tragic genius of the Requiem. 59

Sunday 13 August at 3.00pm WELLINGTON TOWN HALL Wellington

Nicholas McGegan- Conductor
Tower Voices New Zealand

Mozart: Maurerische Trauemusik K 477
Mozart: Symphony No 25 in G Minor K 183
Mozart: Requiem in D Minor K626


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