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Happy Birthday, Wolfgang!

A 17-year-old violinist performs for Mozart's 254th birthday

Caroline Goulding (photo by Gary Adams)

After a certain age, birthday parties can seem old hat. But sometimes the way the event is celebrated can make all the difference in the world. This weekend’s pair of Buffalo Philharmonic concerts—Saturday, January 30 at 8pm and Sunday, January 31 at 2:30pm—celebrating the 254th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth on January 27, 1756, is the kind of birthday celebration we are all lucky to be invited to.

The all Mozart program will mark the M&T Classic Series conducting debut of the BPO’s new associate conductor, Matthew Kraemer. And a rising young violinist, 17-year-old Caroline Goulding, makes her Kleinhans Hall debut as soloist in the Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219.

Mozart composed all five of his concertos for violin in one year, 1775, when he was himself only 19. The lively last concerto is known as the “Turkish,” though the vigorous country dance music that interrupts the stately beginning of the work’s final rondo movement is actually Hungarian. As music critic Michael Steinberg reminds us, “‘Turkish’ to the Austrians was a loose but handy designation for something east of Salzburg, or even Vienna.”

Goulding, who has already performed as soloist with major orchestras in Cleveland, Detroit, and Toronto, was awarded first prize just this past November at the finals of the prestigious 2009 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. A week or so later, she was honored with a nomination for a Grammy in the Best Instrumental Performance without Orchestra category for her self-titled debut album, released on Telarc in August; the CD includes music by Corigliano, Vieuxtemps, Kreisler, Schoenfield, and Gershwin, as well as traditional Cape Breton Island fiddling. Also featured on the CD, appropriately enough, is pianist Christopher O’Riley, host of the nationally syndicated radio program From the Top, heard locally on WNED 94.5 Saturday mornings. Goulding has appeared on the program several times and on the PBS TV series From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall, as well as on NBC’s Today. Her photo made the cover of the December issue of Strings magazine. Goulding has performed with O’Riley at the popular New York City music hot spot, Le Poisson Rouge.

Through the generosity of the Stradivari Society of Chicago, Caroline performs on a rare 1617 Antonio and Girolamo Amati violin, the “Lobkowicz,” which had previously been loaned to the American violinist, Rachel Barton, for a decade, and more recently to the German violinist Daniel Roehn.

Pierre Roy, who has been the BPO principal oboist since 1995, will be the soloist in Mozart’s 1777 Oboe Concerto in C major, K. 314, one of the masterpieces of the concerto repertoire for oboe. Mozart subsequently adapted this concerto, his only one for oboe, as his Flute Concerto No. 2, with the original composition long thought to be lost; the missing work was only rediscovered in Salzburg in 1920. Also on the program is the delightful overture to the comic opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384.

Mozart was still re-arranging the music for this opera when he began composing a serenade commissioned by the prominent Haffner family of Salzburg in 1782. The resulting work, not to be confused with the earlier, now famous Haffner Serenade, K. 250, composed in 1776, became the starting point for the Symphony No. 35 in D major, K.385, the final work on the program. Looking over the music he had composed for this second serenade, Mozart was surprised by how good it was, given the fact that he composed it in a rush. He decided to eliminate the opening march movement, along with one of the minuet movements and recast the work as the popular symphony that we now know as the “Haffner.”

For tickets, call the BPO box office at 885-5000 or visit

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