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Emotional and spiritual music

January 22, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

"Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it - that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed." - Albert Einstein

The power and beauty of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's music has delighted audiences for centuries, and prompted thoughtful responses from some of the world's greatest thinkers. When pianist Noel Lester begins teaching his college course on Mozart, he said, he cites a quote from theologian Karl Barth that addresses the composer's enduring popularity: "What occurs in Mozart is ... a turning in which the light rises and the shadows fall, though without disappearing, in which joy overtakes sorrow without extinguishing it, in which the Yea rings louder than the ever-present Nay."

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, with guest pianist Lester, will perform works representing three distinct periods in Mozart's life and career during the third of this season's MasterWorks concerts at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown. "All Mozart" will start at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25.

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The emotional roller coaster of a program likely will appeal to a wide audience, said Lester, chairman of the music department at Hood College in Frederick, Md.

"It is very difficult to describe Mozart's music in words," he said. "His music is so spiritual and so true that it touches a responsive chord in just about everyone."

The program will open with the Symphony in D Major that Mozart composed early in his career. Lester will join the MSO as a soloist for the second part of the program - a piano concerto that Mozart wrote while at the peak of his popularity in Vienna, Austria. His Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor is "one of only two in the minor mode and shows a darker, more dramatic side of Mozart," Lester said.

"I am delighted to be playing the C Minor concerto."

A graduate of Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music, Lester made his New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall and has performed in such notable venues as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California. Lester also has performed at such European venues as the Ernst Barlach Haus in Hamburg, Germany, the Chopin-Gesellschaft in Darmstadt, Germany, and the Easter in Maastricht Festival in the Netherlands. He also has toured Japan, and performed in recitals broadcast on radio networks worldwide.

Lester's engagements closer to home this season have included a recital at Coolfont Resort & Spa in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., the Beethoven Triple Concerto at Hood College and the premiere of the Lester/Roldan Duo - a two-piano work - at Peabody Conservatory.

After Lester's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, the concert will close with Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor. MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze described the symphony as a "true masterwork," a complex and deeply emotional piece sure to move contemporary listeners. Schulze will host a discussion of Mozart and his music at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday before the concerts. The talk is free for concert ticket holders.

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