Jim Farber, San Francisco Classical Voice, 20th October 2020

“It was an emotional moment reminiscent of the final scene in Field of Dreams, when Saturday night a seemingly endless line of cars snaked its way toward the vibrantly glowing stage in front of the Del Mar Racetrack Arena — all for a chance to enjoy a concert of classical music performed live by a 23-member chamber orchestra.

Presented by San Diego’s Mainly Mozart, the sold-out, drive-in concert attracted a capacity crowd of 320 cars with an audience estimated at over 1000. Tickets (per car) were sold in advance for $45 and $100.

Conducted by Mainly Mozart’s music director, Michael Francis, the program interpolated the luster of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the sultry tango allure of Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The concert was also historic (in the annals of COVID-19) because it represented the first time that a full-scale professional chamber orchestra performed live in California (and probably the nation) since the onset of the pandemic.

Over the course of four drive-in performances, Francis and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra will perform works including Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major with LA Philharmonic principal horn, Andrew Bain, and Symphony No. 41 in C Major (“Jupiter”); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major and Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major (“Emperor”), with Anne-Marie McDermott as soloist; ending the festival Oct. 24 with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major (“Italian”)…

There is, however, no way to describe in words the sense of joy that was manifested by the orchestra.”