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Sounds of Mozart entertain hundreds in Old Westbury

Conductor Daniel Boico leads the Long Island Mozart

Conductor Daniel Boico leads the Long Island Mozart Festival Chamber Orchestra in a performance at Old Westbury Gardens. (May 29, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

After the last note of Mozart’s “Concerto No. 27” carried across the expansive field at the Old Westbury Gardens on Sunday, the audience’s enthusiastic claps ensued.

Piano soloist Konstantin Soukhovetski rose from the black bench, thanked the crowd and made a move to leave but the clapping did not stop.

Soukhovetski sat down again and graced his fingers over the keys of the Steinway & Sons piano.

“He was so well received he’s actually playing an encore,” said David Winkler, artistic and executive director of the Long Island Mozart Festival, where Soukhovetski played. “That’s highly unusual in a concert setting.”

The Long Island Mozart Festival was first hosted about 20 years ago, Winkler said, as a celebration of great music and artists.

“It’s also a celebration of the combination of music along with this wonderful venue,” he said. “It’s sort of a statement about nature and fine art and how human beings are capable of creating something as good as the nature we inhabit.”

This year’s festival took place over two days on the main lawn of the Old Westbury Gardens and featured solo musicians as well as the festival’s own chamber orchestra. On Sunday, Soukhovetski performed with the chamber orchestra, as well as violin soloist Anna Rabinova, and the ensemble was conducted by Daniel Boico, who is the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

The festival focuses on bringing classical music to the masses, including children.

“This is the kind of thing people need to have access to,” Winkler said. “It’s a food for the soul.”

Hiding from a hot sun under a beach umbrella, John and Nerissa Traolo, of Holbrook, entertained their two red-white-and-blue-clad children before the concert started.

The family had been to the gardens before but never to a live concert.

“It’s beautiful here,” Nerissa Traola said. “They’ve been playing music while we’re waiting, so it’s been a really nice afternoon so far.”

A classical music lover herself, Nerissa Traola said she has also tried to pass that affinity down to her children, Lea, who is 3 ½ years old, and Evan, 15 months old.

“When I was pregnant, I would play it for my kids,” she said. “I would put speakers on my stomach so they could listen to it. So we’re definitely big fans.”

Thelma Alexander, 87, of Queens, was also enjoying a day with her children, one of which is from Plainview but the rest of which had flown in from out of state for family graduations.

“We’re happy to come out to see gardens and enjoy a concert,” she said. “That seemed like a lot of fun and an interesting thing to do.”

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