It’s a logistical nightmare and a birthday party, all rolled into one. Every year, Bill and Judy Scheide, arguably Princeton’s most prominent — and generous — arts patrons, fly an orchestra over from Europe to give a concert to celebrate Bill Scheide’s birthday. This year, Scheide turns 97. On Thursday, January 27, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mark Laycock, will present an all-Mozart program at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton campus. The concert also features Dimitri Ashkenazy, clarinet, the son of conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy; and soprano Jihye Son.
Scheide’s annual birthday concerts have become a highlight on the Princeton classical music calendar, along with the other benefit concerts he and his wife sponsor throughout the year. Charitable organizations that have benefited from the Scheide concert series in the past include the Princeton Arts Council, Centurion Ministries, Isles, and the Princeton University Preparatory Program.
Titled “Sound Medicine,” this year’s concert benefits the Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) fundraising campaign for the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. The Scheides have long been supporters of the Princeton Healthcare System Foundation, having established the Fannie and James A. Floyd Clinic Endowment Fund in 2008 to provide healthcare for the uninsured and the underinsured through the outpatient clinic at the University Medical Center at Princeton.
The Zurich Chamber Orchestra, a leading international ensemble with an outstanding reputation focusing on the Viennese masters and their disciples, also collaborates with leading musicians in widely varied genres (jazz, folk, and popular music) and rediscovers forgotten composers to complement a repertoire that ranges from baroque to classical and from romantic to contemporary.
Laycock, the Scheides’ longtime friend and preferred conductor, previously directed the Princeton Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years. He has appeared with the orchestras of London, Paris, Vienna, Lucerne, Prague, Moscow, Kiev, Montreal, Mexico City, Seoul and Taipei, and is currently based in Berlin, Germany.
Another tradition of the concert is Laycock’s “birthday tribute,” an original composition that honors Scheide, who is the founder and former director of the Bach Aria Group, a Bach scholar, humanitarian, and philanthropist. The birthday song is always kept secret until performed at the concert.
Sound Medicine, Scheide Concerts, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Thursday, January 27, 8 p.m. All Mozart program conducted by Mark Laycock features the Zurich Chamber Orchestra in honor of William H. Scheide’s 97th birthday. Featured musicians include Dimitri Ashkenazy on clarinet and soprano Jihye Son. The concert benefits Princeton HealthCare System’s “Design for Healing” campaign for the new university Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. Register. $35 to $95. 609-258-9220 or www.scheideconcerts.com.