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Live Reviews

"Mozart: Reloaded": A Jazz and Classical Multimedia "Salon"

By Published: February 5, 2006
Next, the Group Motion Dancers did a well-choreographed performance of a scenario in which a thoroughly modern woman invites the main characters of "The Magic Flute to her home to watch the Mozart Opera on TV. In the background, movie clips were flashed showing various and surreal scenarios, for example of a man going about an urban landscape. The overall feeling of the dance and movie scenes was one of misdirected and acutely vulnerable passion, again with a touch of Mozartian humor. I would be hard put to say what the dance meant symbolically, but I could feel how the characters were undergoing some sort of metamorphosis through the experience of a world unfamiliar to them.

Following the intermission, Ms. Clearfield announced "Four piano compositions based on Papageno's Birdcatcher's Theme from The Magic Flute. Each was commissioned by a local patron and performed with aplomb and finesse by pianist Charles Abramovic, a faculty member of Temple University and a fine accompanist and recording artist who is a musician of the highest caliber. Without going into detail about each composition, listed below in the Program Notes, they represented a potpourri of contemporary music, each taking off on the Mozart motif in a distinctly different way. The final piece, "Love-bird by Robert Maggio incorporated jazz syncopation and thematic material reminiscent for me of Gershwin and of the French composer, Francis Poulenc.

Finally, and magnificently, Delaware Steel, a large group of steel drum players from the University of Delaware and conducted by Harvey Price, did a spectacular performance of- believe it or not- the Overture from "The Magic Flute. One had to see their coordinated body movements to fully appreciate their achievement. As they moved deftly between drums, the rythym of the music was replicated in the swift multi-body turns to the left and right, with a bit of the lively, cool feeling of those Motown "oldies singers. The audience loved it! A perspicacious musician would wonder how on earth all the intricate details of Mozart's orchestration could be transcribed for steel drums- but it worked.

Following the performances, most of the performers and composers gathered on stage for a discussion with the audience led by Kimmel Center Director of Programming Tom Warner with Andrea Clearfield, both of whom were dressed for the evening in period costumes punctuated by hipster sunglasses! Unfortunately, the discussion, mostly centering on trivialities, was perhaps the only disappointment of a stellar evening. One wished that greater insight would have been imparted, but the truth is that musicians, with rare exceptions, are often the least able to verbally articulate their art. Tony Miceli lightened up the trivia with ribald humor when he noticed that the two participants to his left were his former professors at the University of the Arts, and he asked them if they knew he was stoned when he took their courses! This was truly a Mozartian touch, for the truth is that Wolfgang himself had a wonderful irreverence and "lightness of being that permeated his music at every turn.

To conclude, this was a wonderful multi-media creative evening that was faithful to the divine spirit of Mozart yet wove its own tapestry of modernity. Andrea Clearfield is to be thanked for daring, in the words of T. S. Eliot's J.Alfred Prufrock, to "disturb the universe. May the universe of music be subject to more such perturbations, for that is the only way that jazz and other musical forms can grow, change, and comingle.

Curated by Andrea Clearfield

  • Improvisations on themes from Mozart's Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 545 Uri Caine, piano

  • Ridente la calma, K. 152, from the Marriage of Figaro; Voi che sapete, K. 492, from the Marriage of Figaro. Tony Miceli, vibraphone; Joanna Pascale, vocals; Madison Rast, bass; Butch Reed, drums.

  • Foxy Lady and the Magic Box: a tale told with string accompaniment Written, narrated and all parts recorded and performed by Gloria Justen

  • Mozart Organ Works, arranged for accordion. Lidia Kaminska, Accordion

  • The Magic Flute-An Unveiling. Group Motion Dancers: Gabriel Bienczwicki, Emily Hubler, Lesya Popil, Lee Shapley, Hedy Wyland


  • Four piano compositions based on Papageno's Birdcathcer's Theme from The Magic Flute, performed by Charles Abramovic, piano:

  • On the Road commissioned by Louise Clearfield. Composer: Sebastian Chang

  • Vogelfänger commissioned by Lisa A. Miller. Composer: Jan Krzywicki

  • No Flutes Allowed commissioned by Kimmel Center Presents. Composer: Evan Solot

  • Love-bird commissioned by Dr. Leonard and Dr. Barbara Frank. Composer: Robert Maggio

  • Finale: Original arrangement of the overture to The Magic Flute, K. 630. Delaware Steel (The University of Delaware Steel Drum Band) Harvey Price, Director.

  • Musicians and composers discussion with the audience

Photo Credit
Victor L. Schermer

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