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Mozart, Einstein star at the Arizona Cultural Forum

What did composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and physicist Albert Einstein have in common? Well, um, they both spoke German. They both played the violin a little. And both are posthumously enjoying big anniversary celebrations. This is Mozart's 250th birthday year; it's also the 100th anniversary (well, actually, 2005 was the anniversary, but it's a long season) of the publication of Einstein's five most important papers, including those expounding his theory of relativity and investigations into the nature of light.

One other thing they have in common: They're the subjects of this year's Arizona Cultural Forum, a free three-day series of panel discussions and performances masterminded by Harry Clark of Chamber Music Plus Southwest and the Tucson Weekly's own James Reel.

It runs Feb. 24-26; the first and last days' activities take place at Academy Village, the retirement community for smart people near Colossal Cave. Of primary interest to people in Tucson are the doings on Saturday, Feb. 25, in the meeting rooms of St. Philip's in the Hills Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave.

The day's events begin at 10:30 a.m. with selections from Alan Lightman's bestseller Einstein's Dreams, imagining what the world would be like if time worked in strange, different ways. Reel and Lesley Abrams will read Lightman's prose; pianist Sanda Schuldmann will play music by Mozart, and UA physics prof William Bickel will explain what it all means.

After that, Bickel will participate in a panel discussion of what was known of the physical world in 1756 when Mozart was born, what Einstein contributed in 1905, and where we stand now. At 1:30, after lunch, glass harmonicist Lynn Drye and organist Pamela Decker will perform rarely heard Mozart works; meanwhile, next door, Schuldmann and actor and educator Paul Fisher will present Mozart Finds a Melody, intended for kids 6-12.

Then at 3 comes a play with music called Fiddle Lesson for Albert, a Harry Clark script in which Einstein tries to talk Mozart's father, the foremost violin pedagogue of his day, into giving him a lesson. It features actors Fisher and William Killian, pianist Schuldmann and young violinists.

Some of this material will be repeated Sunday at the Arizona Senior Academy at Academy Village, 13701 E. Spanish Trail. But there's unique material there on Friday, including a discussion of what "classical" means in music and physics, a panel on the physics of music, and Arizona Opera's Joel Revzen presenting songs by Mozart.

It's free, but registration is suggested at 400-5439.

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