Walter Bitner

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Expanding Educational Horizons Through Technology

Michael Tilson Thomas (Music Director, New World Symphony) with Aalia Hanif, Accelerando student, April 2018 (click photos to enlarge)

New World Symphony & Nashville Symphony Accelerando:
A Unique Partnership

I first met Cassidy Fitzpatrick, Vice President for Musician Advancement at New World Symphony, at the 2016 League of American Orchestras Annual Conference, held that year in Baltimore, Maryland. Cassidy approached me after a session where I had spoken about the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program, introduced herself, and we made arrangements to speak soon after.

This is how a number of important projects I’ve been involved with over the last few years have germinated – through an initial “chance” meeting at a conference. That crucial first conversation has led to a robust and thrilling partnership for the Nashville Symphony Accelerando program, now entering its third year.

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On The Dark Side of the Moon Part 3

continued from
On The Dark Side of the Moon
Part 2

 

The Dark Side of the Moon

Side B

Money

The sound effects loop that Roger Waters made in his garden shed from coins jangling, paper ripping, and other cash-related sounds begins the B side of The Dark Side of the Moon, followed almost immediately by Water’s driving bass line – one of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable in the history of rock. Money was Pink Floyd’s most successful single from the album, and like many rock hits, it is based on a twelve-bar blues. The resemblance ends there, however: Money is set in the dark and serious key of B minor, with seven beats to the bar.

Money‘s three verses are a cocky paean to greed, a caricature of capitalist values. Waters lays the irony on thickly: clearly living one’s life in pursuit of money for its own sake or for the luxuries that great wealth can bring may interfere with the attempt to live consciously. Do greed and a distraction with materialism proceed from the irrational part of human nature?

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On The Dark Side of the Moon Part 2

continued from
On The Dark Side of the Moon
Part 1

 

The Dark Side of the Moon

Side A

Speak To Me

The opening track is a brief sound collage, little more than a minute long, which introduces and foreshadows some of the album’s themes in the manner of an overture. The opening heartbeat draws the listener into an intimate relationship with the music from the very beginning. It is nearly half a minute before snippets of sounds hint at what’s to come: clocks ticking (Time), a cash register (Money), the rotor sound effect (On The Run), lunatic laughter, and the first spoken words “I’ve been mad for fucking years, absolutely years” introduce the album’s primary themes as the sounds overlap, increase in volume, and build to a climax that features a woman screaming into

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On The Dark Side of the Moon Part 1

“All you touch and all you see
is all your life will ever be.”

~ Roger Waters, Breathe

 

Forty-five years after its release, Pink Floyd‘s monumental The Dark Side of the Moon remains the most important musical document on the human condition in the history of rock music. It is arguably the most important musical recording ever made to address its subject matter: universal humanist themes that include the finite compass of human experience, the passage of time, death, greed, conflict, insanity, and the irrational.

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Blair School of Music: Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute 2018

Adult Chamber Music Institute 2017, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

 

Following up on their success last summer, Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music will host the second Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute in July. This special four-day program is the only one of its kind in our area (as far as I know) – a unique opportunity for adult amateur string players to come together and make music in an intimate setting with the guidance of some of the finest string music educators in Nashville.

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Side By Side 2018

Curb Youth Symphony musicians (Kaili Wang and Maggie Kasinger, concertmasters) begin rehearsal for the annual Side By Side Concert ~ May 14, 2018, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville (click photos to enlarge)

On May 15, Curb Youth Symphony and the Nashville Symphony combined forces on the stage of Laura Turner Hall for our annual Side By Side concert. Curb Youth Symphony is directed by Carol Nies, and this year’s Side By Side event was conducted for the second year in a row by Nashville Symphony Music Director & Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. On Monday and Tuesday last week, 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 as we prepared for and enjoyed this much anticipated annual event.

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The Lute at the Court of Henry VIII 

The Lute Part XII

Unknown Man with Lute by Hans Holbein the younger (1497/8 – 1543), Berlin, Gemäldegalerie ~ American musicologist John Ward speculated that this might be Philip van Wilder, but David Van Edwards has cast doubt on this theory here. (click images to enlarge)

When Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) ascended to the throne of England in 1509, the lute did not play the prominent role in English society and culture it would come to hold by the end of the 16th century. In addition to his matrimonial activities, waging war in France, and reforming the church, it is well known that Henry VIII was an enthusiastic musician, and even composer. He invigorated and developed the musical aspects of life at the English court in the first half of the 16th century far beyond what they had been under previous English monarchs, employing dozens of musicians, including lutenists (or lewters, as they appear in contemporary account books).

Before Henry VIII, the English court was still heavily influenced by Burgundian culture, and use of the harp superseded the lute there until the end of the 15th century. The lute rose to prominence in England by the second half of the 16th century, lagging behind much of the continent by a couple of generations.

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The Cards

Around the country, the school year is coming to a close. For high school students, spring break is fast becoming a distant memory as students complete projects and write papers, cram for End of Course tests, Advanced Placement exams, finals.

Performing arts programs, too, are in the last stages of preparation for the final performances of the year: in many cases, a Spring Concert is the traditional event for youth choir, orchestra, and band programs. These culminating events showcase student achievement over the course of the year, and provide an opportunity for students and parents to to come together and share what has been accomplished.

The Spring Concert can also be an emotional event, as students who have completed their time in the program prepare to move on to the next stage of their lives, and say goodbye to their friends and their teachers. In many cases, the relationships students make in their arts programs are the closest and most impactful relationships they make in high school, and these provide cherished memories that last a lifetime.

Like many music teachers, I used a simple ceremony at each Spring Concert to mark this passage to the next phase for my students: The Cards. (more…)

Voices of Hope

 

On March 26, the Nashville Symphony in partnership with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission presented Voices of Hope, the Second Annual Schermerhorn Invitational Choral Festival. This special, free education and community event was designed and presented this year as part of Violins of Hope Nashville.

Voices of Hope convened student choirs from local public schools, private schools and religious organizations under the direction of Dr. Tamara Freeman, an internationally acknowledged Holocaust ethnomusicologist. Dr. Freeman worked with each choir and director individually in the weeks and months leading up to the event. All of this preparation culminated in the festival: a day of rehearsals and a free performance open to the public.

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SphinxConnect 2018

 

Last month I traveled to Detroit, Michigan for the 6th annual Sphinx conference – SphinxConnect – and 21st annual Sphinx Competition. SphinxConnect was held this year at the downtown Detroit Marriot at the Renaissance Center. This was the third year in a row I have attended the conference and competition, and my second as a speaker.

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