Walter Bitner

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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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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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Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Fall Concert, November 17

Conductor Daniel Myssyk leads Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra rehearsal, November 5, 2019, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond (click images to enlarge)

 

One of the many aspects of my new position at the Richmond Symphony that I love is the opportunity to interact with students and staff of the symphony’s wonderful Youth Orchestra Program. On Tuesday afternoons, more than two hundred young musicians from metropolitan Richmond and beyond gather downtown to make music in five ensembles. When I arrived in Richmond to begin my new position back in August, the most advanced of these ensembles – Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO) had already begun rehearsals for the season, and the other four ensembles began their seasons within a few weeks of my arrival. Now as the weather turns colder and the holidays draw near, the anticipation and excitement among all involved are palpable as we prepare for the first performances of the season.

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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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Blair School of Music: Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute 2019

Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute 2018, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

 

For the third year in a row Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music will host the  Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute in July. The only program of its kind in our area, this four-day celebration of chamber music brings together adult amateur string players with some of the finest string music educators in Nashville. It’s an exciting opportunity for chamber music enthusiasts that continues to grow in popularity and program offerings each year:

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BACHanalia 2019

click images to enlarge

 

Nashville’s 13th annual Bach festival – our beloved BACHanalia – will be held:

Friday, March 29, 2019 from 4 – 10 pm
Christ Church Cathedral
900 Broadway in downtown Nashville.

This event is one of the highlights of the musical year in Music City.

A broad spectrum of musicians from our unique community come together at this time each year to present this one-of-a-kind six-hour concert-without-pause devoted to Sebastian’s music, generously hosted by our friends at the cathedral in their beautiful sanctuary.

For the last several years I’ve had the privilege of learning of the program and schedule ahead of the event and voila! here it is. It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by.

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The Forest presents Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Part 2

The Forest at The Barbershop Theater, Nashville, October 31, 2018. (l to r) WB, Kate Atanian, Ryan Middagh, Eric Brewer, Andrew Guinn, Mario Galati, Michael McLemore, Alex Blizniak, Danesa Harper, Kari Leigh Ames, Brian Hull (click images to enlarge)

 

Continued from Part 1

 

Taking it apart in order to put it all together

Concurrent with all the logistics and planning for the show’s “big picture”, I spent time last summer trying to figure out exactly what keyboards I would need to be able to play the show and how they would be set up.

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The Forest presents Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Part 1

The Forest performs Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon at The Barbershop Theater, November 1, 2018 (l to r) Michael McLemore, Alex Blizniak, Eric Brewer, Andrew Guinn, Danesa Harper, Kate Atanian, Walter Bitner, Ryan Middagh (click images to enlarge)

 

In 2018, I found myself playing in a rock band for the first time in over thirty years. This is what happened!

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17th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

This month, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations to honor the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 263rd birthday. This annual tradition features an ensemble of local musicians – often including members of the Nashville Symphony, free-lance professionals, and amateurs – who perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Amadeus, who was born on January 27, 1756.

The 2019 concerts will take place:

Friday, January 18, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Saturday, January 19, 3 pm, at W.O. Smith Music School1125 8th Avenue South, Nashville

This year’s concerts feature:

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Françoise Pierredon & Roger Wiesmeyer, piano four-hands

Adagio in C, K. 356
Dennis James, glass armonica

Adagio and Rondo, K. 617
Dennis James, glass armonica
Jessica Dunnavant, flute
Roger Wiesmeyer, oboe
Kris Wilkinson, viola
Keith Nicholas, cello

These special events will benefit the The Little Pantry That Could, who provide produce and shelf stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need.

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Education & Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony: 2018 Review

Nashville Symphony Brass Quintet Education Ensemble performs at Dan Mills Elementary School, September 26, 2018: (l to r) Alec Blazek, trumpet; Patrick Walle, horn; Neil Konouchi, tuba; Derek Hawkes, trombone; Patrick Kunkee, trumpet. (click photos to enlarge)

 

Happy New Year! 2018 was a whirlwind, packed with education and community engagement activities at the Nashville Symphony. This is a look back at some of the highlights of our department’s programming last year, before we take off full steam ahead into the new year!

 

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