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Enjoy The Lighter Side of a Popular Festival


Actress Sylvia Milo unveils the rest of the story of Amadeus Mozart’s real life sister, nicknamed Nunnerl, who was a prodigy, keyboard virtuoso and composer in her own right.

By Dasha Morgan – As the 10-day Amadeus Mozart Festival celebrates the music and life of Mozart in downtown Asheville, there are a number of events more lighthearted in nature that you might want to attend. These events—from beer to theater to sing-alongs—offer a variety of entertaining experiences that go hand in hand with the grander Mozart repertoires being offered. This popular festival put together by the Asheville Symphony involves more than a dozen community partners and is a community-wide event. Below you will find out more about less formal events for all ages and musical tastes, held this week in conjunction with the grandiose concerts and performances.

With so many craft breweries in the area, it is only fitting to have a Mozart event at Oscar Wong’s Highland Brewing Company on Friday March 10 beginning at 7 PM in the tasting room. Popular Asheville musician and songwriter, Matt Townsend will entertain with his melodic sounds, and you will be able to enjoy the Highland Brewing’s special release of a classic Vienna-style lager crafted in honor of Mozart: Wolfgang 1756. This is a family-friendly free event. Later in the week, Austrian wines will be featured at the Santé Wine Bar & Tap Room in the Grove Arcade. Consultant Chris Curtis of The Country Vintner will showcase his Austrian wines in its March Flight Night with a theme of “Mozart Soard in Wine and Song” on Thursday, March 16th at 7 PM.

On Saturday, March 11th at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM a zany, musical comedy is featured at the Diana Wortham Theatre. And Now Mozart features violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-Ki Joo, who romp onstage with great glee much like Victor Borg did in his performances. And Now Mozart opens with “Photographer,” a piece that plays on the annoying disturbances that can ruin a concert. “We revel in the magic that happens when things get out of hand,” observes Joo. In addition to the ingenious musical mash-ups that have become their concert calling cards, the show also includes such sketches as “Music Police,” in which Igudesman accuses Joo of speeding through Chopin and devolves into a rapid-fire, tour de force of styles, composers, and techniques, from Tchaikovsky to Phillip Glass.


And, while most of this concert is played for laughs, Igudesman & Joo do show off their considerable musical talents with compositions of their own or from the classical repertoire. Their talent and extensive musical knowledge give them the freedom to be reverently irreverent. The two met as teenagers, training at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, England. Each has a distinguished solo career, composing, arranging and performing with orchestras and chamber groups worldwide, as well as working on film scores and mentoring young musicians. The successful collaboration was born out of a desire to create a concert that they would actually want to attend. “We are never making fun of music. We are having fun with music.” They do believe, as their hero Victor Borge said, ”Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” For Igudesman & Joo, music simply provides the vehicle.


The Haen Gallery is one of three venues hosting a walking chamber music concert with the Pan Harmonia ensemble March 13.

On Monday, March 13, a progressive chamber music concert with the renowned Pan Harmonia ensemble will take participants on a walk at a leisurely pace to three different venues: The Haen Gallery, Asheville Museum of Science and Blue Dream Curry House in downtown Asheville. The group is meeting at the Drhumor building on the corner of Patton Avenue and Church Street at 6:00 PM hopefully with

a full moon beaming. Reservations are recommended as space is limited.( From there the group will divide up and go to the various venues. At each of the settings, different ensembles featuring Kate Steinbeck on the flute, Rosalind Buda on the bassoon with a piano, violin, viola, and/or cello will be waiting to enchant the walking group with a 20-minute concert, before they stroll to the next location. In addition, the Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra’s brass ensemble will be at one venue.

Kate Steinbeck has been nationally recognized for her artistic excellence and creative vision. The excellence of the repertory’s musical quality makes this progressive event one not to be missed. The company will be playing Mozart’s Quartets and even his bassoon concerto in B flat K. 191. In addition, a quartet by Joseph Boulogne, le chevalier de Saint-Georges, will be performed. He is known as a gifted composer, talented violin virtuoso, and an acquaintance of Mozart.

On Wednesday and Thursday, March 15 and 16th at the Diana Wortham Theatre, actress Sylvia Milo will unveil the true story of the life of Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed Nunnerl, the sister of Amadeus. She was a prodigy, keyboard virtuoso, and composer in her own right. Not to be deterred by history, Sylvia Milo, the production’s creator and performer, brings Nannerl to life in this fascinating and intelligent performance, featuring a stunning 18-foot gown with exterior corset, representative of the social restrictions in which Nannerl was captive. Period style movement directed by Janice Orlandi creates a world of opulence and elegance through articulate delicacy of expressive balletic gestures, reverent court bows, and fan language.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart repeatedly wrote that nobody played his keyboard music as well as his sister Nannerl could, and their father Leopold described her as “one of the most skillful players in Europe” and that she improvises “so successfully that you would be astounded,” yet Nannerl’s virtuoso was sublimated into a more socially accepted activity. Directed by Isaac Byrne, The Other Mozart is based on facts, stories and lines pulled directly from the Mozart family’s humorous and heartbreaking letters. The Other Mozart had a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run in NYC in 2014. In September 2016, the play was presented at St. James Theater in London to critical acclaim. The production has toured extensively in Europe.

Last week Pete Zamplas in the Tribune papers reported on master violinist, Midori’s participation in the Amadeus Mozart Festival together with the Asheville Symphony’s Youth Orchestra. To see this article, go to

This year the Asheville Symphony once again brought a full schedule of performances, education programs, collaborations with community partners and social events for the Second Amadeus Mozart Festival. Undoubtedly bringing this Festival to Asheville required untold hours of work, coordination, and fundraising by many. For a full event listing, go to: You will find something for everyone to attend.


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