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Mozart at 250: Students Celebrate His Birth and Study His Music in Winter Term Symposium

Oberlin students are ringing in the New Year with a month-long celebration to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The festivities are part of "The Mozart Experience," Oberlin's 2006 Winter Term Symposium, which will include lectures and discussions, a film series, a chamber music marathon, and performances of Mozart's last comedic opera, Cosí fan tutte.

Symposium events open to the public run from Jan. 17 through Feb. 4.

Notable among the symposium events is a Jan. 25 lecture by Mozart scholar Neal Zaslaw, the Herbert Gussman Professor of Music at Cornell University. Dubbed "Mr. Mozart" by the New York Times for his role in organizing the 1991-92 Mozart Bicentennial at Lincoln Center, Zaslaw is co-editor of The Compleat Mozart: A Guide to the Musical Works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and author of Mozart's Symphonies: Context, Performance Practice, Reception.

More than 90 student participants from both the College and Conservatory have signed on for "The Mozart Experience," says Brian Alegant, professor of music theory and chair of the Winter Term Committee.

"The Winter Term Symposium is a great way to get students involved in a single on-campus project and to create connections between students in different fields of study," he says.

Each participant is required to complete one primary area of study for winter-term credit, with options ranging from repertoire classes to a starring role in Cosí fan tutte. Many activities are open to students with little or no musical background, including membership in a choir that will perform Mozart's four-part vocal music or a behind-the-scenes job as a stagehand for Cosí fan tutte.

"The idea is to offer students a variety of options, so that they can select something that interests them," says Alegant. "By offering activities that immerse students in the critical analysis of Mozart's music, we are creating an opportunity for students to rethink Mozart's music and experience it anew."

As part of the symposium, Professor of English and Cinema Studies Patrick Day, Professor of English Phyllis Gorfain, and Associate Dean Nicholas Jones will deliver public lectures that explore the use of Mozart's music in film and literature.

Gorfain, who is also staging a "read-through" of Peter Shaffer's award winning play Amadeus, says one of the questions she plans to address in her lecture is how to describe, in words, a non-verbal art such as music.

"I think finding language for music must pose an interesting challenge for musicians who want to voice, teach, or explain the qualities of the music they play," she says.

Students will also have the opportunity to see The Shawshank Redemption and Closer, two recent films that use Mozart's music as part of their soundtracks, as well as film versions of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro.

With such a wide variety of activities to choose from, Alegant hopes students will try something they may not have the time to do during the academic year.

"Anything we can do to enhance the appreciation of music is good," he says. "And the opportunity to experience music in so many different ways will enrich our perception of it even more."

2006 Winter Term Symposium The Mozart Experience

Public Events (open to all, free of charge)

Tues., Jan. 17

Presentation: Phyllis Gorfain: "Comparing Amadeus on Stage and Screen: Change the Medium and Change the Message?"

Craig Auditorium (in the Science Center), 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 pm.

Wed., Jan. 18

Presentation: Nicholas Jones: "Filming Mozart: Transcendence or Transgression?"

Craig Auditorium, 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 pm.

Mon., Jan. 23

Open rehearsal for Cosífan tutte.

Conservatory, Room 21. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tues., Jan. 24

Presentation: William Patrick Day: "Cosí fan tutte and Late-18th-Century Enlightenment." An exploration of rationalism, sentimentality, Gothicism, science, nationalism, sentimentality, and the development of the commercial artist out of the patronage system.

Craig Auditorium, 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 pm.

Wed., Jan. 25

Presentation: Neal Zaslaw (Cornell University): "What Was (Is) the Problem with Cosí fan tutte?"

Kulas Recital Hall (in the Conservatory), 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 pm.

Fri., Jan. 27

Concert: Mozart Music Marathon. A celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday, with performances of numerous chamber music and orchestral works.

Warner Concert Hall, (times to be announced.)

Fri., Feb. 3, and Sat., Feb. 4

Opera performance:Cosí fan tutte.

Finney Chapel, 8 p.m.

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