Walter Bitner

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As I Went Over Tawny Marsh

Loch Vennachar, Perthshire, by Harold Sutton Palmer (1854-1933) (click images to enlarge)

 

This gem, beloved by my choirs, was one of my favorite canons to teach to and sing with children, and a staple of my children’s choir repertoire for many years. I first came across it the early 1990s in a book I can’t find right now, a little red book of traditional songs in English used for students of English as a foreign language at schools in twentieth century continental Europe. I taught As I Went Over Tawny Marsh to my students at Blue Rock School and at most of the other elementary schools I taught at afterwards.

My students always called this song Tawny.

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Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program

 

Meet the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program through this three minute video we made over the last couple of months! Turn your sound up!

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Flying

 

I am sitting in Seat 14D, a window seat on a medium size passenger airplane. In the economy class section of the plane where I am seated there are four seats across the width of the giant metal tube – two seats on each side with an aisle down the middle between them. Other passengers are filing down the aisle as I sit here typing on my laptop and the plane’s public address system is playing country music songs. I’ve been sitting here for about five minutes as the rest of the passengers board the plane. (more…)

Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Side-By-Side with the Richmond Symphony, February 9

Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, Daniel Myssyk, conductor after a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, November 17, 2019, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond (click images to enlarge)

 

Next weekend, the young musicians of Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra in collaboration with the Richmond Symphony present our annual Side-By-Side concert: the culmination of months of work on the part of the students, and a highlight of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program (YOP) season. This year’s Side-By-Side promises to be a memorable occasion for all, as 125 musicians gather together on stage to perform Hector Berlioz’s monumental Symphonie Fantastique.

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Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 Announces Competitors, TwoSet Violin, and More

 

Its been my privilege to work next door to the U.S. team planning this year’s Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 since I began working at the Richmond Symphony in August (our offices share a wall). So I’ve been inspired on a regular basis as hints were dropped about details for this major international musical event, as hints became hopes became plans, applications were made, contracts were drawn up, and all of a sudden here it is: January 22, the day of days, the red letter day!

Today is the day when much of what has been kept secret is finally revealed. (more…)

Off The Podium Debuts on ChoralNet

I’m thrilled to announce that today I begin a weekly blog on ChoralNet, the professional networking site for the global online choral community. ChoralNet is operated by the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), which I’ve been a member of for years. It’s a distinct honor to be invited to share my work with choral musicians through this forum, which reaches thousands of members, all over the world, every day.

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It’s a Symphony Sing-A-Long! January 25

 

Next Saturday, the Richmond Symphony presents our third LolliPops concert of the 2019-20 season:

It’s a Symphony Sing-A-Long
Richmond Symphony
Chia-Hsuan Lin, conductor
Sarah Kate Walston, soloist

Saturday, January 25, 2020
10 am: Pre-concert Festival
11 am: Concert
Carpenter Theatre
Dominion Energy Center, Richmond

Purchase tickets here on the Richmond Symphony website.

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The Japanese Garden

(click images to enlarge)

 

I came to the Japanese Garden because I thought it would be serene here. I’m having a bad day, and spending some quiet time alone in the peaceful environment of manicured footpaths and miniature bridges, gentle streams, colorful fish and artfully arranged rocks will help me to feel better. I’ll sit quietly in the bosom of nature like a Buddha. Everything will be ok. (more…)

2019: What Kind of Blog Is This?

Posing with the Boticelli ~ 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 masterworks on February 14, 2019. (click images to enlarge)

Off The Podium Reflections, with a few Statistics

My annual review of Off The Podium, in which I share some thoughts, highlights, and statistics from the past year. Sometimes this blog is a little all over the place, hence the title.

This is the fifth year in a row that I have written this summary, and this year’s report will be a little different from the format of previous years. There are fewer lists this year and fewer statistics. This year’s review is more reflective and anecdotal.

2019 brought tremendous change for me and my family. Both of our children graduated (one from high school, one from graduate school), I accepted a new job in a new city, and my wife and I packed everything up, sold our house in Nashville and moved. After nearly sixteen years in Music City, we now reside in Richmond, Virginia, where I serve as Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Richmond Symphony.

Off The Podium continues to provide a great means to share the activities of my work in music education with the world (now at the Richmond Symphony), and to continue to develop my writing on the topics of Music and Education. Off The Podium reaches thousands of readers all over the world. Thank you everyone for your continued encouragement and support!

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Universal Music Education

Nashville School of the Arts Festival Choir in performance, May 13, 2013, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville (click images to enlarge)

As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, the time has come for music educators to stop pussyfooting around and advocate for Universal Music Education. Indeed, it is long past time. We should stop wasting valuable time – time that belongs to us and to the children in our care – we should stop seeking compromise solutions that merely seek to preserve music education’s place in school curriculums, a place that is in most cases completely upside-down, a place that has fallen into neglect and disrepute over that last decades, a place that was rarely or never ideal in the first place. It is time to advocate for what is truly needed by our children and our society: a comprehensive music education for every child in every school.

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