Mozart continues to strike a chord

February 01, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

If he was going to have a beer to celebrate Mozart's birthday, Phil Kelly figured he might as well go out and ask some buddies to join him.

So eight or nine years ago, Kelly estimates, he spoke with his friend Charles Sekula, proprietor of the downtown Hagerstown restaurant Schmankerl Stube, about having a gathering in honor of the brilliant and purportedly high-spirited composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

"I thought we could enjoy each other's company, listen to some of Mozart's music," Kelly said.

Sekula agreed to host a celebration on a Monday evening - the night of the week on which his establishment usually is closed. Kelly, a Hagerstown resident and committed patron of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, received a hearty response to the idea from his friends and fellow MSO supporters. He said the party naturally progressed into a fundraising event for the orchestra.


"We accidentally raised some money when we came to have fun," Kelly said.

And so again this past Monday, Jan. 30, a group of more than 100 Mozart fans gathered at Schmankerl Stube - or, as Kelly called it, Salzburg on the Antietam - for what has become an annual Mozart Birthday Bash. While listening to Mozart's music and bantering with friends over beer and Bavarian food, the group raised in excess of $2,000 for the MSO.

Kelly said this year's bash was "especially cool" because Jan. 27 marked the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.

MSO Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze said, "Here we are, all these years later in Hagerstown, still coming out to celebrate Mozart, as if to say, 'Hey, Wolfgang, good job.'"

Schulze said a range of people, from the most to the least musically knowledgeable, are able to appreciate the music of Mozart.

"He had such a grasp of humanity - from the highest to the lowest. He left us with joy, ebullience, a feeling of really being able to experience the sublime," Schulze said.

Beverly Butts, MSO's principal clarinet, performed a portion of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto at the fundraiser.

"The last few lines are like bubbly champagne," Butts said. "Effervescent. A great way to celebrate Mozart's birthday."

Butts said she believes Mozart himself would have wanted to attend the bash.

"He was fun-loving," she said.

Jamie Yingling of Hagerstown said she has been attending Mozart Birthday Bashes since their inception.

"It's a fun way to support the MSO and the community in general," Yingling said.

Peter George, 72, of Chambersburg, Pa., a self-proclaimed "frustrated concert pianist," attended the party with his wife, Fran, and his friends Jim and Anne Jaklich, also of Chambersburg.

"This is a great idea. I love it," George said.

MSO Executive Director Jean Hamilton said the orchestra's Feb. 11 and Feb. 12 concerts at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown will showcase an all-Mozart program.

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