Woodstock Mozart Festival | Classical preview
David Schrader, Igor and Vesna Gruppman, and Alex Klein perform over three weekends.
Woodstock’s historic opera house has been graced by Leo Tolstoy and done time as a fire station and library, but it’s probably best known for the suicide scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray throws himself from the bell tower. These days, the historic building is a fully modernized theater and home to the annual Woodstock Mozart Festival. Now in its 26th year, the fest gives city dwellers an excuse to hotfoot it 60 miles to the old-timey town for a day trip. “The festival is centered around Mozart, but we include many other works as long as the composers have some connection to him,” says artistic and general director Anita Whalen. Finding composers with a common thread isn’t hard. “Every composer that preceded Mozart influenced him, and everyone who came afterwards was influenced by him, even if in a subversive way.”
The fest is anchored around three consecutive weekends of programming, with each Saturday night performance repeated on Sunday afternoon. Pianist David Schrader will bring his own replica fortepiano—an instrument that came into being during Mozart’s lifetime—and will pair a symphony the composer penned at age 18 with his first mature piano concerto. The following weekends feature Grammy-winning violinists Igor and Vesna Gruppman, while Dutch conductor Arthur Arnold and former CSO principal oboist Alex Klein wrap up the final weekend with Pleyel, Paganini and Schubert.
“I work hard to keep the festival fresh and immediate,” Whalen says. “It’s important to have variety and things you don’t hear every day. If there’s a boring piece, we won’t have it! I don’t want people to leave the festival thinking it’s ordinary—they should expect the extraordinary.”