Mozart and Me

From ECO Keyboardist Beth Etter
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I can relive the experience vividly, though it’s been decades ago. It was summer. I had just graduated from Allegheny College as a music major. Even then, the question was, what now? Great college, but. . .music major, from a small, rural, liberal arts college, where pre-med and pre-law students at least have somewhat of a prescribed agenda to follow?
 

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The Allegheny Summer Music Festival hosted internationally acclaimed musicians on the campus of Allegheny to make great music with people who had never met each other, basically, in the middle of nowhere.

What happens–or, what can happen- when you create the opportunity for cultivated excellence in an unlikely setting? You might get a person like me, dangling my feet through the second story railing of the campus center lobby, together with the mob of other hungry music students from across the country there to experience first-rate music making.

Cooper-Kenneth-01As I listened to Kenneth Cooper perform a Mozart piano concerto, I had one of those moments we call an epiphany. The clarity of phrase, innately proportioned structure of the work, and the exquisite beauty of sound swept over me. The excellence of the performance profoundly affected me. In that moment, I knew that music would be my life’s work.

Years later, working on my Doctoral degree, I was invited to attend an international conference in Ann Arbor, where all of the Mozart piano concerti were performed on period instruments by world-class artists in 18th century stage arrangements. During that week of immersion in glorious performance and often heated scholarly discussions of the “right” way to play Mozart, I was reminded of that moment when I took the bait to a life in music (click on the image below to see the festival program).

To this day, the chance to play Mozart is a gift.

 

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