Inon Barnatan has a favorite story about W.A. Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22.
After the premiere, Barnatan says, "Mozart writes to his father, very proudly, to say that they performed his concerto, and after the second movement, the audience clapped so loudly, they had to play it again.
"I just love that story because now everybody frowns if anybody claps before the end of the piece. But back then, he was so proud that they were made to repeat the second movement because the audience clapped so loudly — and justifiably so, because it's one of the most beautiful movements he ever wrote."
Given modern concert etiquette and expectations, audiences also might frown if Barnatan popped up to tell that illuminating story before the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra's Classics concert Friday night, when Barnatan will play the concerto.
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But on Thursday night, he could tell that and other stories about No. 22 and Mozart's music in general at the Phil's inaugural Kicked-Back Classics event.
The intimate one-hour concert at the Downtown Arts Center is designed as an extended preview of the next night's program. It's a new initiative by the Philharmonic's music director, Scott Terrell, who is in his second year with the group.
"It's an opportunity for me to talk a bit more and get inside the music for the listener," Terrell says. "For people who are not regular concertgoers, it's an opportunity in a casual setting to maybe learn a bit more than just simply listening, not that there's anything wrong with that."
The audience will be seated in a horseshoe around Terrell, Barnatan and the orchestra. Because Mozart orchestras are generally small, Terrell says, most of the orchestra that will be on stage Friday night at the Singletary Center will be in the DAC on Thursday. The musicians will play excerpts from the music to illustrate what Terrell and Barnatan discuss; questions will be taken from the audience; and texting, tweeting and blog-posting from the event are encouraged. After the event, the audience is invited to Natasha's Bistro & Bar to mingle with Terrell and the musicians.
Kicked-Back Classics is similar to Backstage Pass, a program Terrell initiated when he was resident conductor of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina.
"I am always curious as to what makes something great," Terrell says. "We're going to be talking about Mozart, what was going on in his life, what makes it significant compositionally, what makes it remarkable."
Thursday will be the first of two Kicked-Back Classics events for the Phil; the other is March 24 to preview the March 25 concert with pianist Awadagin Pratt and featuring George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
Terrell says he picked those shows in part because Barnatan and Pratt are really good at talking about their music.
"Somebody once said talking about music is like dancing about architecture," Barnatan says. "But I'm a firm believer always that the more the audience gets close to the music, and the more they know about it, the more engaged they are in the performance."
And although Terrell says he thinks Kicked-Back Classics might attract a different type of audience than a Classics concert, he hopes some of the Thursday night attendees might decide to go to Friday's show.
"The idea is to begin to break down walls, and if this is enough, it's enough," Terrell says. "But if they want to know more, then maybe the next night it's not so scary or musically intimidating."