Long Island Mozart Festival

May 12, 2010

Barton Silverman/The New York Times (NY Times Listing)

LAST November, thousands of teenage fans mobbed Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City for an appearance by the pop sensation Justin Bieber. The event was canceled because of the chaos. Now if only the Long Island Mozart Festival, taking place next weekend a few miles away at Old Westbury Gardens, would have the same drawing power.

FEATURED The Voxare Quartet, from left, Erik Peterson, Adrian Daurov, Emily Ondracek-Peterson and Galina Zhdanova, will perform on May 15.

“Classical music is really not getting the kind of direct connection to youngsters that it should,” said David Winkler, the executive director of Chamber Players International, the organization that is presenting the festival. “We’re trying to do our part to ameliorate that.”

The primary focus of the Mozart Festival is, naturally, the work of one particular musician, but many of the activities are geared toward young people. And while carriage rides and fencing demonstrations may not immediately seem related to the Austrian composer, they could entice children and teenagers to stick around for the music.

“There is an opportunity to engage the first-time listener,” Mr. Winkler said. “Sometimes it’s a good idea to give them something to experience that is from the Mozart period but not necessarily the music right away, to soften the introduction.”
Among the many youth-friendly offerings is a concert for preschoolers by Music for Aardvarks, which is dedicated to teaching children about music. A combination performance and educational introduction to classical music by the Kende Trio is also scheduled. And the main-stage concerts will include several works by Mozart performed on Saturday by the Voxare String Quartet and on Sunday by the Long Island Mozart Festival Chamber Orchestra.

Old Westbury Gardens will be accessible for tours and strolls, as it is almost every day from now until the end of October. “Arguably, May is the prettiest month,” said Vince Kish, a spokesman for the gardens.

If Mr. Winkler has his way, not only will the weather hold — all events are outdoors — but classical music and younger audiences will also prove a felicitous match. “Since there is less and less classical music happening for young people in their normal school experience, it’s become our responsibility to try to reach out to those people,” he said. “That’s the audience of the future for classical music.”

Long Island Mozart Festival, May 15 and 16, noon to 4 p.m., at Old Westbury Gardens, 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury. (The gardens open at 10 a.m., and some activities start at 11.) Admission, including access to the house and gardens, is $10, $8 for people over 62, $5 for children 7 to 17, free for ages 6 and under. Information: (877) 444-4488 or longislandmozartfestival.org