Written by Barbare Sturua

The pose and fluid melodies of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the tender and youthful compositions of Ludwig Van Beethoven made the audience transform to the early stages of romanticism in the late 18th century in Alice Tully Hall, at Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts on November 16, 2023. 

Thomas Crawford, who is a conductor and artistic director of the American Classical Orchestra, opened the night by saying “Today, imagine you are in Paris during 1778.” He spent around half an hour explaining the meaning of the composition and the key details of Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K.297 ‘Paris’ by Mozart and Romance No.1 In G major for Violin and Orchestra, Pus 40 by Beethoven, what made the listeners travel in time and enjoy the music just like an expert. He asked the orchestra to demonstrate the sound of storm or nature, with a soft humor and interpretation that caused giggles in the audience. 

The orchestra demonstrated two versions of certain moments prior to starting the performance and the listeners were asked to applaud the version they enjoyed the most. This gesture broke the traditional costume of not clapping during a classical performance and broke the concert faux-pas which was not welcomed by the entire audience. Despite the joy it caused for certain people there were others who sat in silence following the conventional guidelines. An audience member sitting next to me even said as a sign of disapproval “There are certain things that are meant to stay untouched.”

Mr. Crawford shared with the audience the history of the symphony that Mozart wrote the piece at the age of 22 when he visited Paris. Premier Coup D’archet takes its name from the nature of the composition, its instruments’ collective grandiose opening, and its repetitive chords. The conductor, who has a colossal professional experience working with composers such as John Coriliano and William Thomas McKinley, along with musicians such as Yo-yo Ma, Andre Watts, and Richard Good, shared his fascination with this unique piece in humorous manner how Mozart repeats the same bar 21 times and he was only 22 years old when he wrote it.

It was impossible to leave it unnoticed how the first chair violinist, Augusta McKay Lodge, swayed with the music, so her presence was sunk with the movement of the violin bow. The way she felt the notes made the experience magical. It is no question that her rich classical training at The Juilliard School, Indiana University Jacobs School, and Oberlin Conservatory of Music, made her a master of the instrument. In Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Pus 68 ‘Pastoral’, Ms. Lodge and the ensemble demonstrated a beautiful performance that took the form of a conversation between the orchestra and the violin. The symphony was also written during the early stages of Beethoven’s career and it makes sense how it shows the vibrancy of youth and playfulness to the extent that the music sounds like nature, as if birds are chirping, waterfall’s roaring, and a storm is coming.

The American Classical Orchestra (1999), which was previously known as the Old Fairfield Academy, displays exceptional mastery in Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic music. It was fascinating to hear a clarinet at the front of the compositions. This performance was not only an elegant execution of the artworks but also an artful rendition.