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Best seat in the house for Mozart conductor

Classical (Music Genre)ConcertsCultureCarney (music group)AnglicanismBaltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Howard County Concert Orchestra's music director, Ronald Mutchnik, is a busy person who is more accustomed to running around than sitting around. Audiences expect to find him standing on a podium and raising his hands to conduct a piece.

Mutchnik will be seated rather than standing, however, when his orchestra does a "Magnificent Mozart" program on Sunday, March 23, at 4 p.m., at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

The reason is that Mutchnik recently suffered a broken foot in a car accident.

"I'm planning to conduct this concert," Mutchnik said with show-must-go-on determination. "If James Levine can do it, I can do it."

That reference is to the longtime conductor of the orchestra at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Levine's amply documented health problems in recent years now find him conducting from a seated position.

"We'll manage as we always have. It's just that I will be sitting instead of standing," Mutchnik continued. "I'll have plenty of energy to get through it, and Mozart will carry the day."

As for things he may need to do a bit differently at the upcoming concert, Mutchnik explained: "I have to make sure my hands are high enough, and the beats will be a little wider. So long as I give the cues, we'll be fine. Conducting is not so much in your feet as in your hands."

And, conducting Mozart qualifies as a great incentive to get a conductor's hands waving.

"This program puts such a happy face on you," Mutchnik said of the two pieces he'll be conducting.

The performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, "Turkish," features Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Carney as violin soloist.

"There is such greatness in this Violin Concerto, so much musical drama in it. I'm so happy that Jonathan Carney agreed to do it. Every note he plays is done with passion."

The second piece on the program is Mozart's Symphony No. 41 in C Major, "Jupiter," of which Mutchnik said: "It's the greatest of his symphonies." He is especially impressed by its final movement, which is "a real contrapuntal tour de force."

Mutchnik anticipates being back on his feet soon, and he's also taking steps to have more Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians appear as soloists at future concerts.

The Howard County Concert Orchestra performs Sunday, March 23 at 4 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 9120 Frederick Road in Ellicott City. Tickets are $25, $12 for students ages 18- 24 with ID, free for those under 18 accompanied by a paying adult. Call 888-921-7230 or go to http://www.hococo.org.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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