MU music school celebrates Haydn, Mendelssohn with festival

Monday, October 5, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 5, 2009
Jo Ella Todd, a soprano, performs Felix Mendelssohn's "Wenn sich zwei Herzen scheiden" on Sunday evening at the Reynolds Alumni Center at MU. The MU music department will present several concerts and lectures on Haydn and Mendelssohn this week.

COLUMBIA — Marking a bicentennial year for both classical composer Joseph Haydn and early Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn, the MU School of Music is celebrating with a series of concerts and lectures from Monday through Saturday.

The Haydn and Mendelssohn Bicentenary Musings Festival and Symposium will celebrate the 200 years since both Haydn’s death and Mendelssohn’s birth. Haydn, often referred to as the "Father of the Symphony," is known for furthering the symphony, string quartet and sonata form in the late 18th century. Mendelssohn, who lived during the 19th century, is known for following a more conservative, Bach-inspired style during the experimental years of the Romantic period. 

If you go


Noon: Informal Concert, Lee Hills Hall Lobby

8 p.m.: Faculty Chamber Concert No. 1, Whitmore Recital Hall


Noon: Informal concert, Lee Hills Hall Lobby

3 p.m.: Convocation Lecture, Whitmore Recital Hall


Noon: Informal Concert, Ellis Library Colonnade

8 p.m.: University Philharmonic Concert, Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts


3 p.m.: Convocation Lecture, Whitmore Recital Hall


Noon: Informal Concert, University Hospital and Clinics Lobby

8 p.m.:Faculty Chamber Concert No. 2, Whitmore Recital Hall


2 p.m.--Haydn/Mendelssohn Piano Marathon, Whitmore Recital Hall


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The festival began Sunday night with a ticketed gala concert at the Reynolds Alumni Center. All of the festival’s other concerts and lectures are free. This is the first time the music school has held a festival for these two composers, but there have been similar events for other composers in the past.

“One of the things that successful musicians do is mark important anniversaries,” Janice Wenger, a pianist, professor and organizer of the festival, said. “So, it’s a typical thing to have a festival like this. When we were in a Bach year, we performed a bunch of Bach pieces.” 

Wenger, who will perform at both the informal noontime and evening concert Monday, said that the free festival provides a unique opportunity for those who enjoy classical music. 

“It’s wonderful music, and if you’re interested in either of these composers, you get to hear such a broad spectrum,” Wenger said. “There will be so many things to hear —vocals, strings, piano, brass — the list goes on and on.”

Robert Shay, director of the music school, said the week’s events feature numerous faculty members as well as some students. The school will host Ken Rapini, a cellist and music teacher at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, for the Wednesday night concert. He will perform Haydn’s Concerto in C-major for the University Philharmonic concert at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts

Judith Mabary, an assistant professor of music history and literature, will give concert commentaries for both faculty chamber concerts on Monday and Friday nights.

Mabary said that all of the week’s events are worth attending, butFriday’s concert at Whitmore Recital Hall will be an interesting mix because so many different types of instruments and musicians will be involved.

“The program for Friday evening mixes the familiar and the unfamiliar, offering both the novice and the classical music connoisseur a rewarding experience,” Mabary said.

Friday night’s concert will feature performances from the Esterhazy Quartet, well-respected pianist and professor Peter Miyamoto, as well as many other faculty members and students. 

Mabary encourages people to take advantage of this festival by attending at least a few of the events.

“The opportunity to hear this much music from two of the most renowned composers of our Western cultural history in the span of a few days is a rare one,” Mabary said. “It is our hope that our enthusiasm for this music will be contagious.” 


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