Those who believed Mozart didn't have a sense of humor never saw the movie Amadeus, and they probably never have attended a Byron Schenkman concert either.
The renowned classical pianist from Seattle has been described by The Seattle Times as "a first-class Mozartean and extraordinary keyboard virtuoso."
On Sept. 22, he'll kick off Camerata Musica's 2012-13 concert season at the Battelle Auditorium in Richland.
Schenkman is one of those musicians who can play serious music in a playful and lively style, said Nancy Welliver, with the Tri-City-based Camerata organization.
"He teaches music history at Seattle University and is a member of the early music faculty at Cornish College of the Arts," Welliver said. "He's also a fan of all keyboard music, particularly harpsichord, piano and -- for a change of pace -- accordion."
Schenkman said he's always loved playing all sorts of keyboard instruments, and even though Mozart grew up playing the harpsichord, he preferred to play piano as an adult.
"Of course, the pianos of Mozart's day were more like harpsichords than the Steinways we're used to today," Schenkman said in a phone interview with the Herald. "One of the reasons I like 18th century music so much is that it is so playful. I'm often reminded that we play the piano, we don't work it.
"Mozart's music is full of wit and charm," he added. "Sometimes, it's downright funny."
At the Camerata concert, Schenkman will only play Mozart's music, including sonatas in B-flat major and F major as well as Six German Dances, Allegro in G minor and a few variations of Ah Vous Dirai-Je, Maman, which translates to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
"I like to think of performance as a sort of collaboration between the player and the instrument. I play really differently depending what instrument I'm playing," he said. "Some instruments inspire me more than others. The Battelle Auditorium has a really beautiful Steinway piano that I've played several times. I look forward to collaborating with it again."
Admission is free to all Camerata Musica concerts.
The rest of its 2012-13 season includes performances by Musica Ficta on Oct. 14, Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio on Nov. 17, Carpe Diem String Quartet on Jan. 26, Natasha Farny on Feb. 23, Scott-Garrison Duo with pianist Rajung Yang on March 23, Ensemble Electra on April 27-28 and Young Artists of Distinction on May 5.
* Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org