Paavali [Jumppanen, ANAM’s Artistic Director] approached me about involving the percussion students in a Mozart concert. At first blush, you might go, “Hang on, percussion and Mozart?!” But when you look into it, there are some interesting things to tease out. I was excited to find that he had written for the glass harmonica. Strictly speaking, it’s not a percussion instrument, but it falls into our everything-and-the-kitchen-sink vibe. So, we are going to perform Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Harmonica, written in 1791 – the last year of his life.

Peter Neville playing the cimbalom.

Peter Neville playing the cimbalom. Photo © Pia Johnson

The glass harmonica (originally called the glass armonica) was invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin. It’s like a series of mixing bowls, turned on their side and mounted on a rotating iron spindle, so you can use all 10 fingers to play more than one note at a time. You dip your fingers in water or a little bit of chalk or resin. It has a celestial sound, but it was said to cause nervous disorders. There were warnings for people to play it in small doses...