Walter Bitner

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Concentration

When I was 9 or 10 years old, my piano teacher assigned me a simplified arrangement of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. At that point in my piano study, I had not yet attempted to play anything that required such independence between my hands – this arrangement retained the typical ragtime style of a syncopated melody in the right hand set against the left hand alternating bass notes on the beat and chords on the division of the beat.

This piece was a struggle for me to learn, but it was the right piece at the right time. Despite the difficulty I had in coordinating my hands to play the two distinct rhythmic patterns against each other, I was captivated by The Entertainer and very motivated to learn it. My parents had taken me to see The Sting and had given me the film’s soundtrack recording on LP featuring Marvin Hamlisch’s marvelous arrangements of Scott Joplin’s original rags. So putting The Entertainer in my hands at that stage of my piano curriculum was timely on the part of my piano teacher and incredibly fortuitous for me. Thank you, Mrs. Stoike.

I clearly remember the day it happened.

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There Are Two Kinds of Education

I know that the title of this article sounds like a joke, but in fact, I’m serious. Of course: there are many different kinds of education; what I am referring to here are two fundamental approaches to educating our children. Understanding these two approaches and the differences between them can help facilitate understanding of why children are being taught what they are being taught, why schools are structured the way they are, and ultimately, why there are so many problems in schools – especially public schools – in the United States today.

The two approaches to education I am referring to are:

  • Developmentally Appropriate Education
  • Standardized Education

Apologists for Standardized Education will deny this and try to convince you that their approach is developmentally appropriate, but don’t believe them. By definition and practice, it cannot be, because Developmentally Appropriate Education seeks to meet each child “where she is at” in her development, while Standardized Education is directed at a statistical average.

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Martin & Sebastian

Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the church door ~ 1878 painting by Julius Hübner (1806-1882) click images to enlarge

This week marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This protest against the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church led to the social, cultural, and philosophical revolution we now call the Reformation – which in turn led to many changes in the abilities of governments and religions to control the personal lives of individuals in Western Civilization, among other things.

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Chamber Music Series 2017-18 at the Nashville Symphony

Registration for free tickets to our next performance in the Nashville Series Chamber Music Series  featuring Roger Wiesmeyer is now open. In fact, the entire season’s programming for this series has been announced.

Formerly known as OnStage, this popular series of informal chamber music performances designed and performed by Nashville Symphony musicians has outgrown its previous format, and is now presented with attendees seated on the floor of the concert hall. The new setting will retain the relaxed and interactive concert experience that has made these events so popular with music lovers.

All Chamber Music Series concerts are presented in Laura Turner Hall at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. These events are free and open to the public, but you must have a ticket to attend.

Here is the schedule for this season’s remaining Chamber Music Series concerts:

 

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2017 Composer Lab & Workshop

Next month, the Nashville Symphony will host our second Composer Lab & Workshop, an unique opportunity for young composers to hear their music performed by the Nashville Symphony and receive mentoring and feedback from orchestra professionals.

Four young composers had been selected for this year’s three day event from November 13 – 15, one of whom may potentially earn a performance of their work on the Nashville Symphony’s 2018/19 Classical Series.

FREE tickets are available now! to a performance on November 14 at which the Nashville Symphony, under the baton of Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, will conduct the selected work by each of this year’s Composer Lab Fellows.

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Peter and the Wolf

Soviet art depicting Peter and the Wolf ~ Peter is dressed in a Young Pioneer uniform (click images to enlarge)

It’s one of the most often performed works in the orchestral repertoire, and with good reason: Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf may be the most ingeniously composed piece of musical storytelling ever written for children.

This month, the Nashville Symphony performed Peter and the Wolf for thousands of local elementary school students as the featured work on this season’s Young People’s Concert for 3rd and 4th graders. I had not heard the piece for a while. Over the last couple weeks as I observed our superlative orchestra performing Prokofiev’s masterpiece for rapt audiences of children, I thought about the unique power of music to invigorate and develop a child’s imagination.
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Free Day of Music 2017

 

Here is your interactive, one-stop rundown of the Nashville Symphony’s 12th Annual Free Day of Music. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 21, as always at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Performances showcasing more than 20 different musical acts will be presented on four stages located both inside and outside Schermerhorn.  A diverse array of performers from throughout the community will present a wide range of musical styles including classical, country, rock, jazz, soul, world music and more.  Follow the links below to learn more!

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Best Effort

I think something about this idea as an axiom for work and life was always there for me. When I was a child my father admonished me many times to do my best. I remember him saying to me on numerous occasions “Be the best at whatever it is you choose to do. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are the best at it. If you decide to be a garbage man, then be the best garbage man!” It made a strong impression on me as a young child, and I am sure had numerous (foreseen and unforeseen) consequences for the course of my life.

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The Firebird

Image credit: snob.ru, Wikimedia Commons, veche.razved.ca

It is 1980, and I am 14 years old. I don’t know exactly when this happened but I feel sure it was in the summer or fall. I am standing before the record player I had received for Christmas a few years earlier, in my adolescent lair in the basement of my parent’s house in Camillus, New York. The turntable could be rotated on its side to hide within the wooden cabinet in which it was housed when not in use, and the spindle could accommodate up to 6 LPs at a time (by the time of this memory I had learned never to do this, with the hope of preserving the quality of my record collection as long as possible).

I have just unwrapped the 3 LP set Yessongs from its plastic shrink wrap and set the needle down on the record at the beginning of side A of the first LP. Yes was my favorite rock band when I was in high school (they still are) and I have saved up money from several weeks of early mornings on my bicycle delivering newspapers to buy this, only the second triple album in my collection (the first was Keith Jarrett’s Solo Concerts Bremen / Lausanne).

As I marvel at the stunning artwork by Roger Dean that not only adorns the cover but in fact nearly every surface of the package, what I hear at first are the sounds of an arena crowd anticipating a Yes concert to begin – Yessongs was the band’s first live album. But when the music begins, it isn’t Yes at all – instead I hear the tender horn solo over quiet tremolo chords in the strings that begins the Finale of Igor Stravinsky’s 1910 ballet score The Firebird.

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Violins of Hope Come to Music City

Nashville Symphony music director Giancarlo Guerrero fields questions from reporters ~ Violins of Hope press conference, September 12, 2017, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville (click photos to enlarge)

On Tuesday, September 12, the Nashville Symphony hosted a press conference at Schermerhorn Symphony Center to announce the city-wide collaboration effort to bring the world-famous Violins of Hope to Nashville in the spring of next year.

A diverse array of local organizations – including the Nashville Symphony, Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Ballet, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Vanderbilt University, Blair School of Music and many more – will bring this rare collection of instruments – the majority of which were played by Jewish musicians interned in concentration camps during the Holocaust – to Nashville from Israel in mid-March 2018.

Restored and refurbished by Israeli luthiers Amnon and Avshi Weinstein, the Violins of Hope will be the centerpiece of a months-long initiative designed to foster a city-wide dialogue on music, art, social justice and free expression.

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