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New $17 million Del Mar Fairgrounds venue to host October Mainly Mozart All-Star Festival Orchestra concerts

The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will host three Mainly Mozart concerts in October
The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will host three Mainly Mozart concerts in October. The new venue is slated to open, with a different name, in early 2023.
(Courtesy Mainly Mozart and Belly Up Entertainment)

The concerts appear likely to foster further collaborations between the nonprofit chamber-music and Belly Up Entertainment, which will book and manage the 1,839-capacity venue

San Diego’s Mainly Mozart is poised to return indoors in October for the first time since March 2020, after pivoting entirely to outdoor concerts for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 34-year-old San Diego nonprofit will hold the three-concert fall portion of its 2022 All-Star Festival Orchestra series at the $17 million The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The venue’s official opening as a full-time concert facility is not scheduled until early next year. It will be exclusively booked and managed by Belly Up Entertainment, which also books the Belly Up Tavern in nearby Solana Beach and The Music Box in downtown San Diego.

The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is a temporary name that will be used for Mainly Mozart’s concerts there on Oct. 12, 14 and 15. The performances will feature more than three dozen leading members of some of the nation’s top symphony orchestras. The roster includes violinist David Chan, who is the concertmaster for New York’s celebrated Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

A graduate of La Jolla Country Day School, Harvard and Julliard, he gave up playing soccer here as a teen in order to focus on his music. Now the Del Mar-bred violinist/conductor returns for Mainly Mozart’s ambitious Festival of Orchestras

Tickets are now on sale at the Mainly Mozart website at a discounted rate that will go up at the end of the month. Ticket prices, the concert repertoire and the list of featured soloists appear below.

The new venue is adjacent to the Del Mar Fairgrounds parking lot, which hosted Mainly Mozart’s groundbreaking drive-in chamber music concerts in the summer and fall of 2020.

Those performances made the plucky arts organization the first in the nation to present classical concerts during the pandemic. The move to the new indoor venue is designed to enhance Mainly Mozart’s upcoming 2023 outdoor concerts at a nearby Del Mar park, not replace them.

“We’re very excited, but it isn’t so much an intentional move back indoors,” said Mainly Mozart CEO and co-founder Nancy Laturno.

“Because we were looking primarily at an outdoor venue for October, that ended up not being possible. The fairgrounds people told us about their new facility and we think it will be a good, fun place that allows us to continue serving the North County audience that has been so responsive to our outdoor concerts this year and last year at the Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park.”

Violin star Augustin Hadelich will perform ‘thrilling’ Mendelssohn concerto at Tuesday’s concert. The festival runs through June 18

A total of more than 10,000 people turned out for Mainly Mozart’s six concerts at the park this year, marking an all-time attendance record for the organization. The planned capacity at the new indoor venue at the fairgrounds is 1,839, but attendance for the three October concerts will be capped at 800. Construction is still being completed.

Laturno and the Belly Up have never worked together before. That’s not surprising since the world of chamber music rarely intersects with the rock music and the other contemporary styles that are the Belly Up’s bread-and-butter. But she is hopeful further collaborations are in store.

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“The people at the Belly Up are so smart and we love working with them,” Laturno said. “We’re talking about doing other concerts with them at the new Del Mar venue, music they wouldn’t normally do.”

Steve Goldberg, the co-owner of Belly Up Entertainment, is similarly enthusiastic.

“Being involved with Mainly Mozart and their all-star organization, conductors and musicians is such a cool way to expand our musical offerings,” Goldberg said, “and a perfect example of the value of the new Center in our future. We look forward to growing our relationship with them as the (venue) evolves.”

Mainly Mozart All-Star Festival Orchestra fall 2022 series

When: Oct. 12, 14 and 15

Where: The Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar

Tickets: $18-$150 (ground floor); $225 (balcony); $5,000-$14,000 (two boxes with eight seats each); three-concert subscription packages are $45-$650. Prices increase in September.

Telephone: (619) 239-0100

Online: mainlymozart.org

Concert Schedule

Wednesday, Oct. 12: Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin (Nathan Olson, violin, Erin Hannigan, oboe); Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue; Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (featuring members of the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra); Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks; Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture

Friday, Oct. 14: Ibert’s Divertissement; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 (Javier Perianes, piano); Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending (Nurit Bar-Josef violin); Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G (Javier Perianes, piano)

Saturday, Oct. 15: Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves; Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (Alexander Kerr, violin); Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances Op. 72


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