There are people who don't like Mozart. I knew one, a fellow who owned a "literary" bookstore in Amherst, Mass. (which, as is the way with "literary" bookstores, is no more). His antipathy was most pronounced when Amadeus, the film starring F. Murray Abraham as the devious Salieri and Tom Hulce as an obnoxious Mozart, was winning popular appeal. Suddenly there were people talking about the mastery of the 18th-century composer as if they were experts in music theory when they were actually cribbing from Peter Shaffer's screenplay. The bookstore owner, a disgruntled sort, would mutter, "Treacle," when Mozart's name came up. For him, all those "Mostly Mozart" programs cropping up were an abomination to his Wagnerian ears.
So if the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra thinks it has found a failsafe crowd-pleaser to start the 1999 Classics in the Loop festival, Mozart 'til Midnight isn't it. There are a lot more disgruntled former bookstore owners now then there ever were, those who would find a Mozart marathon lasting from 7:30 p.m. until the tolling of a new day akin to being force-fed dessert after a full meal.
But then there's everybody else who will take pleasure in Mozart's variety, his lightness of touch, his depth of feeling, his ecstatic sounds, his breathless silences. Eight compositions are scheduled for the evening, in which David Loebel conducts the SLSO with guest artists Marina Piccinini and the Ying Quartet, the phenomenal sibling ensemble.
Nobody has to stay for the whole thing -- the ticket stub allows audience members to come and go -- but some lucky soul who sticks it out until midnight will win a bike.
"A bike," some disgruntled sort might mutter. "Somebody who sits through four-and-a-half hours of Mozart doesn't deserve that much. A Yugo, maybe."
To hell with him. Mozart 'til Midnight is held in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall of the Symphony's Community Music School, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 28. Call 534-1700 for tickets.
-- Eddie Silva