Walter Bitner

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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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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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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 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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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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Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program Winter Concert, December 8

Richmond Symphony YOP Camerata Strings, Rebecca Jilcott, conductor, rehearses in Carpenter Theatre, December 3, 2019 (click images to enlarge)

 

This Sunday, Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program (RSYOP) ensembles String Sinfonietta, Wind Ensemble, Camerata Strings, and Youth Concert Orchestra will perform their first concert of the season in Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Energy Center. At Tuesday evening rehearsals over the last few weeks, anticipation among students, parents, and staff has been palpable as the concert approached.

“I am excited for the students to participate in this concert.” said Camerata Strings conductor Rebecca Jilcott. “They have worked hard and have the capability to perform very well.  It is out of my hands at this point and I graciously put the music into these young performers hands..”

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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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Masterclass with Eduardo Rojas, November 15

Eduardo Rojas

Pianist Eduardo Rojas will be joining the Richmond Symphony under the baton of Richmond Symphony Associate Conductor Chia-Hsuan Lin for performances of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major by Franz Liszt as part of our Altria Masterworks 3 on November 16 & 17 – click here to purchase tickets.

We’re thrilled to announce that in addition to performing with the symphony, Eduardo Rojas will teach a masterclass for student pianists at the University of Richmond on Friday, November 15 from 10:30 am to noon at Perkinson Recital Hall at the University of Richmond. Students, parents, teachers, friends: all are invited to attend this very special event, which is free and open to the public.

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Masterclass with Brandie Sutton, October 25

Brandie Sutton

Soprano Brandie Sutton will be joining the Richmond Symphony under the baton of music director candidate Roderick Cox for performances of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24, and Depuis le jour from the opera Louise by Gustave Charpentier as part of our Altria Masterworks 2 on October 26 – click here to purchase tickets.

We’re thrilled to announce that in addition to performing with the symphony, Brandie Sutton will teach a masterclass for student vocalists at Virginia Commonwealth University on Friday, October 25 from noon – 1:15 pm at the James W. Black Music Center recital hall at VCU. Students, parents, teachers, friends: all are invited to attend this very special event, which is free and open to the public.

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Walter’s Working Model

Walter’s Working Model
of the human being, the universe, and everything
with a view towards a philosophy of education

 

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