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Summer in the City: Mozart and Me

Louis Langrée, conductor, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra; Photo Credit Jennifer Taylor

By Beverly Stephen

“Mostly Mozart” is my all-time favorite thing about summer in New York City. Let others flock to the beach. There are reasons tourists from all over the world gravitate to the Big Apple and culture is one of the main draws.

“Mostly Mozart,” which takes place annually at Lincoln Center during July and August, was the first indoor summer music festival in the United States. Now in its 51st year, it’s still drawing mostly sold out crowds and is known for giving musicians their New York debuts. Founded in 1966, it was originally named “Midsummer Serenades: A Mozart Festival.” Hats off to the marketing maven who came up with a catchier title. And an apt one at that considering that the works of many other composers such as Beethoven, Brahams, Tchaikovsky, and this year, a major showing of Schubert are featured.

Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Credit: Stephanie Berger.

There’s something so festive about getting dressed up and joining the elegant crowd in David Geffen Hall. I love watching French-born Louis Langrée so energetically conduct the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra which is made up of freelance musicians from other orchestras around the country. And it’s thrilling to contemplate the line-up of performing artists from all over the world who contribute their talents to this series. I was fortunate to hear pianist Beatrice Rana, a 24-year-old Italian virtuoso making her New York debut, exquisitely play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C major and earn a standing ovation. I’m looking forward to hearing violinist Thomas Zehetmair play Beethoven’s Noble Violin Concerto Friday, August 11. Other soloists included Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis, Jeremy Dark, Gil Shaham, and Kirill Gerstein. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City opened the series with “The Singing Heart,” a special musical evening.

Les Arts Florissants; Paul Agnew, conductor. Photo credit and copyright: Tadzio

This year’s calendar also features two stage productions “The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise” Schubert’s song cycle and the Mozart opera “Don Giovanni” still to come August 17 and 19.

Many of the concerts are prefaced by free recitals or followed by “A Little Night Music” recitals in the Stanly H. Kaplan penthouse.

For me the perfect ending to the evening is a glass of Rosé and a frisée Lyonnaise salad at Bar Boulud. But there are a number of other opportunities to wine and dine such as Lincoln Center Kitchen in the concert hall itself or nearby at Lincoln Ristorante, P.J. Clarke’s, Boulud Sud, The Smith, and the Atlantic Grill, to name a few.

For more info, visit “Mostly Mozart”

Beverly Stephen, the former executive editor of Food Arts magazine, is currently an independent journalist and consultant specializing in food, travel, and lifestyle. She began her career as a newspaper columnist and reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Daily News.

Beverly Stephen, the former executive editor of Food Arts magazine, is a principal of the culinary travel company Flavor Forays.


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