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    Behind the scenes

    Mozart, Mardi Gras grabbing local musical attention this weekend

    Francisco Fullana, with Emily Deans, will perform Mozart in Braintree, while in Hingham, it’s Cabaret au Chocolat.
    Francisco Fullana, with Emily Deans, will perform Mozart in Braintree, while in Hingham, it’s Cabaret au Chocolat.

    Mozart and Mardi Gras are claiming local musical attention this weekend.

    While the Choral Art Society, a South Shore-based community chorus, will host its annual fund-raiser, Cabaret au Chocolat, Saturday night in Hingham, the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra will offer the sweet sounds of an all-Mozart concert in Braintree.

    The concerts represent firsts for both regional music groups. In choosing a Mardi Gras theme for Cabaret au Chocolat, the Choral Art Society will present an outside group for the first time, the Wolverine Jazz Band, for a Dixieland jazz performance. And the Atlantic Symphony is performing its first all-Mozart concert in its home venue, the Thayer Academy Center for the Arts.


    The Choral Art Society’s sweet-toothed nightclub-style event will take place a few days after Mardi Gras, the day before the beginning of Lent, is celebrated in New Orleans and elsewhere.

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    “For the first time, we’ve featured a jazz band,” Danica Buckley, the chorus’s musical director, said last week. “That is new.”

    Emily Deans

    The Wolverine Jazz Band has been entertaining traditional jazz lovers in Greater Boston for 20 years. The band’s Dixieland quartet consists of trumpet, clarinet/sax, banjo, and tuba.

    The evening’s musical entertainment includes a sing-along. With Buckley joining the four-piece band on the piano, the group will perform “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a couple of other favorites. Choral Art Society singers and the evening’s guests will be urged to join in.

    “Everybody in the whole place will sing,” Buckley said.


    The sweet theme comes from a variety of sources. “A lot of chocolate donations from the bakeries,” she said. “Our chorus members are excellent home cooks and have great decadent chocolate recipes.”

    A few “savories” and a selection of wine will also be available. A silent auction will feature Red Sox tickets and a photo safari, among other donated items.

    The cabaret raises money for a $1,000 scholarship for a student planning to major in music. It also helps fund outreach programs such as a performance at a Hospice Remembrance Service in Norwell and two upcoming visits to nursing homes in Scituate this month. The chorus’s next public concert, called “Opera Meets Broadway,” will take place in May.

    For music lovers, Mozart may be as popular as chocolate. His work is popular with musicians as well, said Atlantic Symphony Orchestra music director Jin Kim last week.

    “But it’s also very scary for lots of professional musicians,” Kim said. “It’s hard to hide. It sounds so natural and looks effortless. But unless you get on his wavelength for color and intonation,” the performance can be unsuccessful.


    Mozart’s music represents “the pinnacle of the classical style,” Kim said.

    Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor is one of three symphonies he wrote near the end of his life and showed the maturing of his genius, Kim said. When Mozart wrote in a minor key, the result is “impassioned, filled with pathos, emotional, dramatic.” It is not sad, the music director said, but “heroically emotional. A very personal work.”

    In his concert program notes, music historian Steven Ledbetter calls Mozart’s three late symphonies, composed in the space of six weeks, “one of the greatest miracles in the history of music.”

    “The sheer speed is daunting,” Ledbetter writes. “Even more impressive is the striking variety between the three works, each of which has a character and mood all its own.”

    The program also includes Mozart’s Adagio for Violin and Orchestra, performed by guest soloist Francisco Fullana, described by Kim as “a very special violinist.” Fullana won the Atlantic’s concerto competition two years ago. He studies with celebrated violinist Midori Goto and performs with orchestras throughout the country.

    The adagio, a single slow movement for violin, is a lyrical piece that “allows the most direct possible expression of an instrument song,” Ledbetter states in his notes.

    Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin and Viola will be performed by Fullana and Emily Deans of Boston. Deans, a PhD candidate at New England Conservatory and another “rising star” as a soloist, is also the Atlantic’s principal violist.

    Ledbetter called the piece “far and away the most successful of [Mozart’s] works for multiple soloists.” He also described it as his “finest concerto for stringed instruments.”

    At a time when Mozart was also writing some of the best-loved operas in the Western classical canon, he took a similar approach to his concertos, Ledbetter said. “In both cases there is a soloist who comes on stage and waits while the orchestra plays an introduction,” he wrote. The solo instrumentalist takes the part of the singer whose solo arias wring cheers and tears from the musical theater audience.

    “It’s all this youth,” said Diane Kennedy, the orchestra’s executive director, who described the all-Mozart program as “a celebration of youth.”

    Most of the orchestra’s players are in their mid- to late 20s. And Mozart, who died in his 30s, remains a symbol of youthful genius.

    Behind the scenes

    The Choral Art Society hosts Cabaret au Chocolat

    Church of St. John the Evangelist, 172 Main St., Hingham

    Saturday, 7-9:30 p.m.

    $25 in advance; $30 at door

    Atlantic Symphony Orchestra presents an

    all-Mozart program

    Thayer Academy Center for the Arts, Braintree

    Saturday, 7:30 pm

    $10-$40; 781-331-3600

    Robert Knox can be reached at