About the Mostly Mozart Festival
The Mostly Mozart Festival was launched in 1966, shortly after the completion of the Lincoln Center campus. Called Midsummer Serenades: A Mozart Festival, the first two seasons consisted entirely of the music of Mozart, all performed in Avery Fisher Hall. Initiated as an experiment—common wisdom held there was no summer audience in New York, and there had never been an indoor summer music festival anywhere in the world—the Festival proved to be an instant draw for audiences and quickly became an indelible New York summer institution. Mostly Mozart was designed to provide a more informal ambience for concert-going, offering relatively inexpensive ticket prices and attracting both those who might not go to a more formal classical music concert during the season as well as the sophisticated music lover. Meeting this objective with remarkable success, countless numbers of New Yorkers cite Mostly Mozart as their first classical music experience.
And Mozart himself proved to be the perfect Festival subject and inspiration. The sheer abundance of repertoire, the notable quantity of outstanding concertos and symphonies, and his ability to deeply touch audiences spanning all levels of musical understanding ensured that the Festival could continue to evolve in new and varied directions and remain a vibrant contributor to New York’s cultural life.
Today’s Mostly Mozart Festival is home to period-instrument ensembles, dance presentations, new-music groups, composers- and artists-in-residence, visiting orchestras and ensembles, opera productions, late-night concerts, films, and lectures and artist discussions. Its presentations and concerts span five venues and five centuries of repertoire, from the distant edge of the Baroque to the cutting edge of our own time. Major contemporary artists and composers such as Magnus Lindberg, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Kaija Saariaho, Peter Sellars, Mark Morris, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and Lynette Wallworth have played an important role in the life of the Festival, and ensembles as far flung as Venezuela’s outstanding chorus Schola Cantorum de Caracas and the Maori dance company Mau have contributed to the unique, enduring vitality of Mostly Mozart. Being a significant destination for emerging musicians as they begin major careers is also an special feature of Mostly Mozart. Acclaimed soloists such as Cecilia Bartoli, James Galway, and Mitsuko Uchida all made their U.S. debuts at Mostly Mozart.
The heartbeat of the Festival is the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, which was created in 1973. Under the leadership of Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director Louis Langrée, the Orchestra performs in Avery Fisher Hall, transformed for the Festival by a special Mostly Mozart stage installation that brings audiences closer to the musicians and the music they love. Every summer the Orchestra offers outstanding performances of orchestral works of Mozart, alongside his contemporaries, his predecessors, and his successors. Many significant conducting debuts have taken place with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, and Edo de Waart all made their New York debuts with the Orchestra. In addition to its concerts in Avery Fisher Hall, the Orchestra has toured to notable festivals such as Ravinia and Tanglewood and had residencies at Bunkamura Arts Center in Tokyo and the Kennedy Center.
What makes us most proud of Mostly Mozart as it traverses its fifth decade is that its founding spirit of innovation, risk taking, deep musical engagement, and passion is alive and well, profoundly nourished and sustained by the genius and heart of Mozart.