Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Stephen McDougall Graham and Others to Perform Mozart’s Divertimento
Saturday, October 26, 2019


Stephen McDougall Graham fell in love with the violin at 7. But he pursued degrees in philosophy and public policy, eventually landing a job writing grants for multi-million dollar USAID projects supporting women’s health in Africa.

But he never gave up his passion for music, even offering mini-concerts for colleagues as he practiced in a boiler room at the office. And, when he met the love of his life—actress and filmmaker Naomi McDougall Jones—he was encouraged to pursue a master’s degree in violin performance at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

Stephen McDougall Graham will present a free concert featuring Mozart’s “Divertimento in E-flat major (K. 563)” on violin from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Ketchum’s Community Library. He will be joined by Sun Valley Music Festival cellist Ellen Sanders and viola player Rudolph Kremer.

The event is being offered as part of the library’s new Suddenly Sunday! programming, in which the library will be open to all comers from noon to 5 p.m.

Graham has spent the past seven weeks as a Hemingway Writer-In-Residence with the Community Library, along with Naomi McDougall Jones. The two are the first in the library’s new writer-in-residence program and have been living in a basement apartment underneath the Hemingway House, which the library acquired two years ago.

Naomi McDougall Jones presented a well-received reading of her screenplay “Breathe In/Breathe Out” this week at the library. The script, which McDougall Jones plans to make into a film, revolves around the agonizing decision an aspiring actress must make after meeting a ghost from the past--John Hammond Jr., a contemporary of Thomas Edison’s who was chagrined at being recognized only as the second greatest inventor who ever lived. 

Graham has performed as a professional musician for the past six years, performing regularly with New York’s Chelsea Symphony.

He chose Mozart’s Divertimento, which Mozart composed in 1788, because it is considered a pinnacle of chamber music. Written for the traditional Viennese string trio, it’s Mozart’s only completed such work, which is remarkable considering the popularity of trios of this sort.

Divertimentos in Mozart’s time were pieces written for festivals or parties and thus considered “occasional works” or works written for an occasion.

Scholars speculate that Mozart was commissioned to write the piece by a friend and fellow Freemason who frequently provided him with small loans and commissions to help him through his increasingly desperate financial situation.

Alfred Einstein, the best-known Mozart biographer, called the work one of the composer’s noblest works intended to offer something special in the way of art, invention and good spirits.

“Every note is significant, every note is a contribution to spiritual and sensuous fulfillment in sound,” he wrote.



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