Walter Bitner

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Yearly Archives: 2019

Off The Podium Grand Pause

As this movement of my life rapidly comes to a close and another is about to begin, I will pause from publishing new articles on Off The Podium for the rest of the summer.

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Thank You, Nashville

 

with Madonna and Child, ca. 1490 by Sandro Botticelli ~ this painting was the star of the exhibit “Life, Love & Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy” at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, where I was invited to perform a recital of Italian Renaissance lute music on February 14, 2019. Thank you! (click images to enlarge)

Dear Friends,

The time has come to say goodbye.

In August 2019, I will be leaving the Nashville Symphony to begin my new position as Director of Education & Community Engagement for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in Richmond, Virginia.

Nashville has been our home for nearly sixteen years – our family spent vital and intense years of our lives here, our young children grew into adults, we worked hard and built careers, made friends, shared joys and heartaches. We have loved living in Music City. Before we turn our energies to pulling up roots and starting over in a new town, I wish to reflect on some of the many gifts you have given us over the years, and attempt to express my gratitude.

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The Accelerando Overture

Nashville Symphony Accelerando Ensemble under the direction of Enrico Lopez-Yañez rehearses on the stage of Laura Turner Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, June 3, 2019 (click images to enlarge)

During the first week of June 2019, the Nashville Symphony hosted the 74th annual National Conference for the League of American Orchestras. This exciting event brought approximately 1200 orchestra staff from across North America, Europe, and beyond for four days of conversations, presentations, concerts, and more.

The League’s Education and Community Engagement constituency – EDCE staff at member orchestras from across the country and beyond – is one of the most active, and it has been my privilege to participate in sessions at several previous conferences with my colleagues. As it was our turn to host these activities this year, we focused a spotlight on the Nashville Symphony’s innovative Accelerando program.

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Inspiration and Music Education

Nashville School of the Arts Early Music Consort performs at Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, May 13, 2013 (click images to enlarge)

 

In the contemporary climate of data-driven education, you don’t hear much about inspiration in the popular rhetoric about music education and its role and purpose in the lives of children. But in fact the music teacher’s most important responsibility is to inspire her students.

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Unsolicited Advice

 

 

Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

This time of year I find myself attending many public events to mark and celebrate student accomplishments and transitions: award ceremonies, banquets, graduations. Due to my position, experience, reputation, (age? time of life?) – for whatever reason, I am increasingly being asked to speak at some of these events.

I always wonder what I should say. What do people want to hear? Why would anyone take my word for it?

At a ceremony I attended this week, several teachers – who were giving out awards to graduating seniors – gave what they described as unsolicited advice to those assembled, and I thought about what I believe it would be important to tell others about how to live their lives, if I were the sort of person who felt the impulse to do this.

This is what I came up with, on short notice.

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Side By Side 2019

Curb Youth Symphony and the Nashville Symphony perform the annual Side By Side concert, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor. May 7, 2019, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville ~ photo by Diana Rosales (click images to enlarge)

 

This year’s annual Side By Side Concert featuring the combined forces of Curb Youth Symphony and the Nashville Symphony on the stage of Laura Turner Hall took place on Tuesday, May 7. Curb Youth Symphony is directed by Carol Nies, and this year’s Side By Side event was conducted by Nashville Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez. As always, we enjoyed sharing our symphony home with many of Middle Tennessee’s most accomplished teenage musicians, as they rehearsed and performed alongside our own Nashville Symphony musicians at this eagerly anticipated special event.

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100 Years of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)~ click images to enlarge

Today is the one-hundredth birthday of the American musician and activist Pete Seeger – Pete was born on May 3, 1919 in Manhattan. Like all Americans, whether we are aware of it or not, Pete’s life and work has had a profound effect on me, and I am grateful. When he finally left us a little over five years ago at the age of 94, Pete had accumulated a lasting  legacy of using music to create positive change in the world that few musicians – or anyone else – can claim to have achieved. We are all so lucky to have shared the world with him.

I was also incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to perform on stage with him at children’s concerts for Fieldston Outdoors in the early 1990s. Thank you, Pete.

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“I Desired To Get Beyond The Seas”: John Dowland, Part II

The Lute Part XV

continued from
“To Attain So Excellent A Science”: John Dowland, Part I

 

His Adventures Abroad

I bent my course toward the famous prouinces of Germany, where I found both excellent masters, and most honorable Patrons of musicke: Namely, those two miracles of this age for vertue and magnificence, Henry Julio Duke of Brunswick, and learned Maritius Lantzgraue of Hessen, of whose princely vertues & fauors towards me I can neuer speake sufficiently. Neither can I forget the kindnes of Alexandro Horologio, aright learned master of musicke, seruant to the royall Prince the Lantzgraue of Hessen, & Gregorio Howet, Lutenist to the magnificent Duke of Brunswick, both whom I name as well for their loue to me, as also for their excellency in their faculties.

~ John Dowland
The First Books of Songes or Ayres (1597)

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“To Attain So Excellent A Science”: John Dowland, Part I

There is no known attributed portrait of John Dowland. This miniature of an unidentified subject, painted by Isaac Oliver (c1565-1617) now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was suggested as a possible likeness by Roger Traversac in The Lute Society’s PDF Colour Supplement to LUTE NEWS no. 116, December 2015. “Anno Domini 1590 . . . 27th year of his age” describes this man as the correct age for Dowland, who was born in 1563. (click images to enlarge)

The Lute Part XIV

…happy they that in hell
feel not the world’s despite.

~ John Dowland
Flow, my tears

The English musician John Dowland (1563 – 1626) is the central figure in the history of the lute. Composer, lutenist, songwriter, translator, publisher, traveler, academic – four centuries later, Dowland appears larger than life, and in many ways his dreams and accomplishments eclipse those of his contemporaries. Yet Dowland was very much a man of his own time, and his ideals and struggles reflected the concerns, crises, and aspirations of the Elizabethans even as his music expresses universals that resonate deeply with musicians and audiences today.

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Simone Molinaro

Title page, Simone Molinaro: Intavolatura di Liuto Libro Primo, Venezia 1599 (click images to enlarge)

The Lute Part XVII

Simone Molinaro (c 1570 – 1636) was the leading musician in Genoa when the Most Serene Republic was at its height of wealth and power. In the early decades of the seventeenth century, he served Genoa first as maestro di cappella at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, then as court musician and eventually maestro di cappella di Palazzo – the chapel of the ducal palace. Molinaro was the most prolific and highly esteemed composer in the Genoa Republic, and published many volumes of his own works as well as anthologies and collections of compositions by his contemporaries, including the first printing in score of Gesualdo’s five books of five- and six-voice madrigals.

In addition to being a composer and chapel master, Simone Molinaro was a lutenist, and in 1599 published one of the most highly esteemed volumes of music for the lute to appear during the Renaissance.

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