Mainly Mozart gears up for second outdoor All-Star Orchestra Festival at Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park

Mainly Mozart
Mainly Mozart’s All-Star Orchestra Festival returns to Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park this week for the second consecutive summer.
(Photo by Ken Jacques / Courtesy Mainly Mozart)

Violin star Augustin Hadelich will perform ‘thrilling’ Mendelssohn concerto at Tuesday’s concert. The festival runs through June 18


San Diego’s Mainly Mozart made national headlines in 2020 when the organization responded to the COVID-19 shutdown by introducing classical music drive-in concerts.

“It’s odd because I think being the first out of the gate to produce live classical music for audiences, people think of us as risk-takers,” said Mainly Mozart CEO and co-founder Nancy Laturno. “We were risk-takers, but we’ve been very conservative about moving audiences back indoors. Many people thought we’d be back in the Balboa Theatre last fall. But this summer we’re keeping our commitment to outdoor concerts.”

The Mainly Mozart All-Star Orchestra Festival will be held at the Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park, beginning tonight and running through Saturday, June 18. Tonight, the festival opens with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, featuring Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Boris Allakhverdyan, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

In 2016, a year after Mainly Mozart Music Director Michael Francis came to the nonprofit, he launched the festival’s six-year journey exploring Mozart’s life and works. In 2019, the fourth year covered the composer’s personal and professional experience in Vienna.

“The pandemic turned that upside down,” Laturno said. “This year ends the six-year interrupted journey, with Mozart’s Requiem as our last concert. The San Diego Master Chorale joins us for that.

“The concert shell and the structure we create every year in Del Mar is a huge undertaking. Adding singers to the stage and finding the right organ to use outdoors are enormous challenges. Our operations director, Katie McBride-Muzquiz, is a magician!”

The magic created on the illuminated stage enables the musicians to make even more magic. As in years past, the orchestra is made up of concertmasters and principal players from across the country.

This summer, the festival will feature such notable soloists as violinist Augustin Hadelich, pianist Gilles Vonsattel and cellist Maximilian Hornung playing pieces by Mozart, Saint-Saens and more.

“Michael Francis is an extraordinary programmer,” Laturno said. “And then he adds richness to it with his narration from stage. He has surprised me more than once and has brought me to tears.”

Augustin Hadelich
(Los Angeles Times)

Mendelssohn and Hadelich

On Tuesday, June 14, Hadelich will perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

“Mainly Mozart is a wonderful ensemble to perform with as a soloist,” the violinist said, speaking from a tour stop in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Each member is so excellent and responsive. Because many of the orchestra members are used to being in charge, there’s an energy that makes it come alive. These are all musicians I really like playing with.”

A 2016 Grammy Award-winner in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category, Hadelich was born in Italy to a German farming family. At 15, his promise as a violinist was disrupted when he was severely injured in a fire. After almost two years of rehabilitation, Hadelich resumed his studies and became a professional violinist.

When not touring, he is based near New Haven, Conn., where he teaches a handful of students at the Yale School of Music. He and his wife, Suxiao Yang, have a 2-year-old toddler.

The Mendelssohn Concerto is one of the composer’s most performed and popular pieces. In Hadelich’s view, it is also a groundbreaking masterpiece and one of Mendelssohn’s least appreciated works.

“The proper way was to have the orchestra make introductory music at the beginning,” said the violinist, who considers the concerto as one of the trickiest and difficult works to perform. “But the violin starts the piece right away. It’s very fast playing that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

“In complete contrast, the second theme is calm, tender and blissful. The last movement is light and transparent. Mendelssohn wanted the piece to be a thrilling ride. It is and it’s really exhilarating at the end.”

Mainly Mozart All-Star Orchestra Festival presents The Virtuoso & Don Giovanni, featuring Augustin Hadelich

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14. The festival runs June 10 through June 18.

Where: Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park, 14989 Via de la Valle, Del Mar

Tickets: $60 for a pod of up to four people in Section B seating (general admission); $120 for a pod of up to four people in Section A seating. VIP seating is available for $500 for a table for four or $1,000 for a premium location VIP table for four. Two seats at a VIP table for four are $300 and $600, respectively.

Phone: (619) 239-0100