Walter Bitner

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Wholehearted Attention, November 12

Grannis Photography

Wholehearted Attention

Thursday, November 12, 7 pm

A discussion with Walter Bitner, Dr. Ronald Crutcher, and Alex Laing

Music plays a unique and important place in our culture and an understanding and appreciation of music is a hallmark of the educated person. Beyond the content of the music curriculum however, there is something fundamentally different about the process of music-making from the way most other subjects are taught in school that is of immense value to the successful education of dynamic, flexible, and responsive individuals. Music students must simultaneously perform a complex set of operations that call on more aspects of the human being than any other activity they face in school.

Grannis Photography

At its best, musical performance demands a wholehearted attention from the participant, a complete absorption in the moment in which all other thoughts and concerns disappear.

Read the original article here.

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The Bamboo Thicket

click images to enlarge

 

It’s a rainy October Saturday. This week under the pandemic has been insufferably dystopian, with all kinds of preposterous news. After slowly making my way through Saturday morning I manage to drag myself out of the post-workweek daze for a walk under the trees, despite the rain.

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Introducing the Richmond Symphony School of Music

Dear Friends,

I’ve taken some time away from posting to Off The Podium. It’s my habit to do this each summer in any case, and these times have brought great challenges to all of us. I have been busy working with my colleagues in Richmond to adapt to our new situation, and respond.

And now the time has come to share what we’ve been working on.

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The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

This article posted yesterday, June 2, 2020, on my ChoralNet blog.

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As protests erupt in cities across the country against police violence and inequity, I felt it was best to use this column to share something that may help further understanding, compassion, and hopefully – change.

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Keep Calm and Stay Home

This article posted today, April 21, 2020, on my ChoralNet blog.

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I have read the New York Times every morning for much of my adult life, although lately there have been mornings when I have put this activity off until later in the day…there just hasn’t been much good news. It’s difficult to find articles that aren’t directly or indirectly related to our current shared situation.

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BWV 106 “Actus Tragicus”

Disputed portrait of our friend Sebastian by Johann Ernst Rentsch the Elder (d. 1723) painted c. 1715, which would make him 30 years old here. Sebastian wrote Actus Tragicus when he was 22.

During the eleven-day period from March 21 – 31 it has been my practice for many years to spend some time each day reflecting on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, as I have written about here. Our friend Sebastian was born this time of year in 1685 – on March 21 or March 31, depending on whether you recognize Old or New Style (Julian or Gregorian) calendar conventions for commemorating things that happened centuries ago.

Now under quarantine, this annual period of concentration brings a heightened sense of immediacy, of what G.I. Gurdjieff called “The Terror of the Situation”. People around the world are dying, the pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives, and the reality is: some of those close to me may die, or I may die myself. This is in fact the reality of everyday life, but our drastically more uncertain times underline the certain fact of our mortality. (more…)

Meet the Artist, A Workshop with Tracy Silverman

130 students from 22 Richmond Public Schools Elementary Schools participated in Meet the Artist: A Workshop with Tracy Silverman on March 10, 2020, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond (click images to enlarge)

 

On Tuesday, March 10, internationally renowned electric violinist Tracy Silverman visited Richmond for workshops and performances with Richmond Public Schools students and with the students of Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program.

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Making Music During the Pandemic

This article posted today, March 17, 2020, on my ChoralNet blog. I think it’s worth reposting here.

 

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These are uncertain times. The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives, and we are facing a period of time in which much of what we did regularly – our daily and weekly routines – has been impacted.

For choral singers and choral directors, this means the cancelation of classes, rehearsals, performances, services, and the other activities of our lives that involve gathering together to make music. These social activities now on hiatus are in many cases the reason we got into this work – making music with others is a kind of lifeline, a way to connect with not only others and the world, but with the deepest, internal parts of ourselves. (more…)

Man’s Life’s a Vapor

Man’s Life’s a Vapor, unknown artist, early 1990s ~ I found this among other documents from my years at Blue Rock. It was drawn by a student and given to me by his or her teacher (the teacher supplied the title). Note the scissors, and the deep hole that the protagonist is about to fall into. (click images to enlarge)

A miniature, a concise meditation on the precarious and impermanent nature of human existence.

There is not a lot to say about this song. Man’s Life a Vapor is fittingly brief, as are my comments. (more…)

Richmond Symphony Musical Ambassadors Program (MAP) 2020

Richmond Symphony Principal Flute Mary Boodell demonstrates her instrument during a performance by the Principal Woodwind Quintet at Rural Point Elementary School, Mechanicsville, Virginia, February 27, 2020 (click images to enlarge)

 

One of the most wide-reaching and robust programs we produce, the Richmond Symphony Musical Ambassadors Program (MAP) curates, develops, rehearses, and performs over 125 concerts each season in metropolitan Richmond area schools. Although many in our community may be unaware even of the existence of this program, it nonetheless fulfills a vital aspect of our music education mission, introducing more than 45,000 children to classical music and the instruments of the orchestra every year.

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