Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K. 364, II: Andante

Sweety and I got all dressed up and went to a concert last night! Well, sort of…

We attended a special livestreamed Mothers’ Day event held by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Masterworks with Mom, from the comfort of our living room. 

Conductor Daniel Raiskin was at the podium directing Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), followed by Serenade No. 2 in A Major, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Another piece, not on the program, was the sacred motet Locus iste, by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). The piece, written for four voices, was played, after the intermission, by a horn quartet in memory of a WSO staff member who recently died.

As part of the event, the symphony partnered with Peasant Cookery, a charming local restaurant, to provide a delicious, three-course meal of spinach and beet salad with raspberry vinaigrette, apples, pepitas and hemp seeds; tarte flambee with cork cheese, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, swiss cheese; followed by rum baba, and dulce de leche for dessert. The delivered bag also contained a bottle of Italian red wine and a red carnation. Very classy.

It was the first time we’ve both gotten dressed up to do something in more than a year, and it felt like a touch of normalcy. The food and wine were delightful, and the music was lovely. Bravo, WSO and Peasant Cookery!

Mothers’ Day can be a complicated day for many. The name can feel excluding to step-moms, godmothers, adoptive and foster moms, or those of any gender who provide motherly nurture without having children, whether childlessness is a choice or not. Also, it doesn’t acknowledge the problematic relationships many have with their mothers, the challenge of grieving the loss of a mother, or a mother’s loss of a child. I like how some dear friends replace the Mothers’ Day and other similar salutations of “happy” with “gentle,” to honour the fact the day can bring many heavy emotions besides the happiness the commercialized side of the day commands (often creating unrealistic and unrealized expectations).

Thoughtful intentions and adjustments to our language needn’t diminish the celebratory nature of a day; in fact, a spirit of inclusiveness can do so much to build a culture of authentic, collective celebration that is like the sentiment of mothering spirit: nurturing to all.

Whatever your situation, I wish you peace and a gentle, nurtured day today.

Mozart wrote Sinfonia in 1779 at the age of 23. It’s an outstanding piece of music, though the second movement (Andante) is the most beautiful part, to me. The violin (played at last night’s concert by WSO concertmaster Gwen Hoebig) and viola (played by Daniel Scholz) danced with each other beautifully, surrounded by the modest fullness of the chamber orchestra. The WSO chose chamber pieces to keep the occupancy of the stage as low and spread out as possible and using physical distancing, with face coverings where possible and Plexiglas screens where not possible.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and I hope you enjoy it.

Here’s a video of a performance of the Andante by Susanna Yoko Henkel (violin), Maxim Rysanov (viola) and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra from the Zagreb KOM official YouTube channel, recorded at Zagreb KOM 5 (the fifth Zagreb International Chamber Music Festival) in October 2010:

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