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Hempen Hill BBQ hosts Mozart's birthday party

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra celebrates musical genius

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra celebrates musical genius

January 29, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- It wasn't your typical birthday party.

Sure, there was fun, food and music - but the guest of honor was nowhere to be found.

He's been dead for more than 200 years.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, child prodigy and composer of some of the world's most beloved symphonies and choral works, would have been 252 years old this month.

To mark the occasion, a large crowd gathered Monday night at Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill to salute the music genius and raise money for The Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

The event began about 13 years ago when Hagerstown resident Phil Kelly and several of his friends decided to get together to socialize and listen to Mozart's music.

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"Mozart is my favorite composer," Kelly said. "I thought it would be fun to hold a small party in his honor."

Along the way, the party turned into a major fundraiser for the MSO. About 100 people purchased tickets for Monday night's event at $25 per person.

In addition to a buffet, a variety of music was planned for the evening, including performances by the Honors String Quartet from North Hagerstown High School; Duo Classico, featuring Candice Mowbray on guitar and Susan Mott on flute; and The Mozart Defects, a rock band that Kelly said would be "performing Mozart music like you've never heard."

"It's a very casual, very relaxed evening," Kelly said. "It's a chance to honor Mozart, have some fun and raise money for the MSO."

The birthday bash was just the kind of event Mozart would have enjoyed, said Elizabeth Schulze, MSO music director.

"If Mozart could be here, he definitely would," she said. "He loved this sort of thing - people coming out to enjoy good food, good music and celebrating each other."

Schulze said Mozart loved dancing and having a good time.

"But he knew how to balance the fun and the serious parts of his life," she said. "He hasn't been served very well by the movie 'Amadeus,' which made him seem over the top."

Among those attending the party was Jamie Yingling of Hagerstown.

"I try to come every year," she said. "It's a nice time, after the holidays, to reconnect with friends and have a fun evening. It's also great to support the MSO."

Listening to Mozart's music is nothing new to Linda Walker.

"When my friend invited me to the party, I thought she was kidding around," said Walker, a Hagerstown resident. "But this is a lot of fun. And, besides, who doesn't love Mozart? I think he's more popular than ever."

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