Crafton Beck and a flicker of inspiration

Jan 10, 2019

It was 1992 in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, when Crafton Beck experienced the historic site for the first time as an adult.

“Williamsburg is a glorious time for adults in the wintertime,” Beck says. Post-dinner concerts in the beautiful rooms of the Virginia Governor’s Mansion or Capitol were a treat.

“They do evening concerts with music of the period … very late baroque and early classical music — Haydn, Mozart — and they do it with an orchestra that would be true of that period, with eight or ten people,” he says. “There’s no electricity in these buildings, so they were performing it authentically.

“I will never forget being at that mansion, in the ballroom, and there were 100 of us in the audience, sitting in creaky chairs, and in front was an oval of 10 string players, playing this repertoire.

“They were truly doing it authentically, not only on authentic instruments, but since there was no electricity, they also had candles on each music stand.

“It was, literally, everything but a lump of coal in a pail underneath the seat to keep you warm.”

Beck left there with a new addition for his musical bucket list: If he ever became a music director, he’d create a series of candlelight concerts. And, that he did. Mozart by Candlelight was an immediate hit.

Several factors are at work in the magic: the ambiance, midwinter timing that’s perfect for getting warm and close and cozy, and Mozart.

“You just can’t miss with that.”

It’s very good for the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, too. “This orchestra plays Mozart superbly,” Beck says — a triumph with the famously difficult works that are some of the most unforgiving in the repertoire. “It exposes everything.”

What works for a wonderful evening also works for a wonderful orchestra.

“Once a year this orchestra is sitting down and playing an all-Mozart program and we have grown in the 18 years I’ve been here.

“Not that they hadn’t done Mozart before, but not like this. Nobody does Mozart, this focused.”

Mozart by Candlelight Concert

1.12.19 / Belhaven University Center of the Arts / 7:30 pm / Jackson, MS

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Overture from Apollo et Hyacinthus, K. 38

Divertimento in F Major, K. 138

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218

Stephen Redfield, violin

Adagio in E Major, K. 261

Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, “Jupiter” 

Tickets $22: buy here >