Robert Walzel

Chamber music played a significant role in Mozart's compositional output. Some of his most dynamic, poignant, dramatic and, quite simply, creative ideas are found in his works for small ensembles.

The University of Utah's school of music has quite rightly recognized the significance of Mozart's chamber music in its ongoing series celebrating the Austrian composer's 250th birthday anniversary.

The series' next installment, which takes place today at 7:30 p.m. in Libby Gardner Concert Hall, will present three of Mozart's most enduring chamber works — the Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370; the Horn Quintet in E flat major, K. 407; and the Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478.

"I'm really excited about this concert," said Robert Walzel, chairman of the U's school of music, "because chamber music was important to Mozart. He loved to participate in chamber concerts."

Walzel said today's concert marks the debut of the school's newly formed faculty Chamber Players. "Besides the music itself, having our own faculty performing group makes this special. We have a diverse group on the faculty, who play at a high level, and Mozart's music allows us to show that off."

Playing are Utah Symphony members Robert Stephenson, oboe; Stephen Proser, French horn; and Roberta Zalkind, viola. Joining them will be violinist Hasse Borup; violist Robert Baldwin; cellists Elliott Cheney and Steven Emerson; and pianist Jeffrey Price.

Borup is one of the music department's newest members. "He coordinated this concert," said Walzel. "He is an incredible violinist and an incredible addition to our faculty."

Walzel said he's received indications from his faculty that the new chamber group will be a successful supplement to the student performing ensembles on campus. "The feedback I've gotten after they'd been rehearsing shows that this group will help to improve our faculty community."

And starting with the new academic year, the school of music will unveil a new faculty-recital series that is intended to supplement the U.'s Virtuoso Series. "The caliber of playing here (in Salt Lake City) is as high as it is anywhere," Walzel said. "A lot of chamber music isn't presented here because we haven't had the venue or resources to allow it. With this new ensemble, we can finally do it. It will be our gift to the community."

The goal of the new series will be twofold. "We're planning on doing three or four chamber music-specific concerts along with several solo recitals," Walzel said.

It was the current Mozart festival that proved to be the direct impetus to getting the Chamber Players and faculty series off the ground. "We learned a lot putting this series together," Walzel said. "We learned that we can have a greater presence on the next level — on a faculty performing-group level."

Walzel doesn't believe that the Chamber Players will diminish the value of the many student performing groups that are on campus. "I'm convinced that the students will come away from these (faculty) concerts inspired by seeing their teachers perform."

If you go ...

What: University of Utah's Mozart Celebration

Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

How much: Free

Phone: 581-6762