The theme for this summer’s Festival Mozaic, the seventh under the directorship of Scott Yoo, is “In the Footsteps of Giants,” a name that suggests the range and grandeur of the programs Central Coast music lovers may anticipate.
But if any potential concertgoers may be intimidated by the idea of giant footsteps, feel no fear — the musicians are all life-sized human beings, and they want their music to communicate.
Master violinist Scott Copes, who will be featured in two festival events this weekend, spoke to The Tribune recently by telephone. His enthusiasm for music that “reaches out to people” came through loud and clear.
Originally from Southern California, Copes trained at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia before having the privilege of studying under the legendary Robert Mann at Julliard.
In his teaching, Copes explained, Mann emphasized the need for a musician to reach out and communicate as deeply with an audience as possible.
“Mann was not so much about violin technique but about making a concept come across a stage — making a visceral connection to an audience instead of just having an idea in your head,” Copes said
Copes seemed excited about the Korngold violin concerto he’ll be playing with the Festival Orchestra on Sunday. Korngold, who died in 1957, has been described by Don O’Connor in American Record Guide as one of “the last major composers who actually wanted their music to be enjoyed” by nonspecialist audiences.
“It’s a very satisfying piece to play,” Copes said, “especially if you like Weill or Berg, as I do. It was Korngold’s first classically structured composition after World War II. It has resilience.”
The resilience of classical music is a theme close to Copes’ heart. He spoke about the narrowing of the classical music audience and whether anything can be done to change that situation.
“I think a performer should seize any opportunity to reach an audience, but I’m not sure Schubert belongs in a bar. If an audience listens mostly to popular songs, which last three or four minutes, they might find even one movement of a quartet challenging,” he said. “Should performers talk about the music before a concert? Maybe the audience needs to know something about the music they don’t know.
“But then, you run into the problem of balance. How much should we talk before a concert? Does a pre-concert talk ‘dumb down’ the music or make it more interesting? We want the music to be accessible, but we want to respect its specialness too.”
Copes will be featured in two afternoon concerts at the Cuesta College Cultural and Performing Arts Center, the grand finale on Sunday and a chamber concert Saturday featuring a Mozart piano trio, a quintet by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Maurice Ravel’s luminous string quartet.