“Classical at the Freight” celebrates Mozart’s birthday

The Classical at the Freight monthly series at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse runs October to May and features the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra All-Stars. On January 13, the headliner is a birthday party for a 264-year-old man from Salzburg.

The Mozart Birthday Celebration presents the composer’s Horn Quintet in Eb Major, K. 407 and String Quintet in D Major, K. 593 in a casual, no-intermission, 90-minute concert .

“I’ve always loved the music of Mozart, particularly his chamber music and specifically his viola quintets,” says SF Chamber Orchestra Music Director Ben Simon, in an interview. “We’re playing a real masterpiece with his late great String Quintet in D Major, K. 593, as well as a relatively unknown and absolutely delightful quintet involving the French horn and four string players.”

SFCO principal horn player Kate Dennis takes the lead in the less-known quintet for horn and strings. Mozart wrote the virtuosic piece for Viennese horn player Josef Leutgeb, a good friend of his for whom he also wrote five horn concerti. Simon says about the work, “The horn and two violas give this piece a wonderfully dark and rich sound, and all five instruments have wonderful parts to play.”

Also appearing with Dennis and Simon on the program are SFCO musicians Liana Berube (violin), George Hayes (violin), Alexandra Leem (viola), and Samsun van Loon (cello).

The opening movement of Mozart’s String Quintet K593 is a beguiling conversation between instruments, reminiscent of Haydn, friend and mentor to the composer. It’s easy to imagine the young Mozart finding delight in paying tribute to his friend. That back-and-forth dialogue aligns in graceful, vulnerable unity in the second movement adagio. Displaced accents enliven the Menuetto; with the quartet concluding in a clever, complexly contrapuntal fourth movement that returns to first movement themes having traveled to a place in which they sound new.

Simon says the no-intermission program, with great chamber works performed in an intimate venue like the Freight, is one of their most popular series. “We’re in our 15th year of these Classical at the Freight concerts. Although our SFCO MainStage, Family, and Very First Concerts are all admission free, this series is in collaboration with the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse and has a small admission fee ($9 + $2.05 fee). SFCO supporting members get two tickets for the price of one.”

If the prices aren’t enough of a draw, there’s also a trivia competition to test your classical music knowledge, with a chance to win an SFCO t-shirt.

So bone up on your Mozart — and related factoids — and step out for a classical music birthday celebration, Freight and Salvage style.


Monday, Jan. 13 @ Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. Doors 7 p.m., show @ 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets here.

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