Walter Bitner

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Category Archives: Music Education

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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Herring’s Head

The Atlantic Herring (click images to enlarge)

 

Herring’s Head is a cumulative folksong that I taught to and sung with students of all ages at many schools over the course of my teaching career. It features humorous lyrics that deliver a conservation message about whole animal or “nose to tail” eating (mindful consumption). Herring’s Head‘s call-and-response structure, extroverted attitude, and whimsy made it a popular and successful song to sing with large groups of children and adults.

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Thank You, Nashville

 

with Madonna and Child, ca. 1490 by Sandro Botticelli ~ 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 music on February 14, 2019. Thank you! (click images to enlarge)

Dear Friends,

The time has come to say goodbye.

In August 2019, I will be leaving the Nashville Symphony to begin my new position as Director of Education & Community Engagement for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in Richmond, Virginia.

Nashville has been our home for nearly sixteen years – our family spent vital and intense years of our lives here, our young children grew into adults, we worked hard and built careers, made friends, shared joys and heartaches. We have loved living in Music City. Before we turn our energies to pulling up roots and starting over in a new town, I wish to reflect on some of the many gifts you have given us over the years, and attempt to express my gratitude.

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The Accelerando Overture

Nashville Symphony Accelerando Ensemble under the direction of Enrico Lopez-Yañez rehearses on the stage of Laura Turner Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, June 3, 2019 (click images to enlarge)

During the first week of June 2019, the Nashville Symphony hosted the 74th annual National Conference for the League of American Orchestras. This exciting event brought approximately 1200 orchestra staff from across North America, Europe, and beyond for four days of conversations, presentations, concerts, and more.

The League’s Education and Community Engagement constituency – EDCE staff at member orchestras from across the country and beyond – is one of the most active, and it has been my privilege to participate in sessions at several previous conferences with my colleagues. As it was our turn to host these activities this year, we focused a spotlight on the Nashville Symphony’s innovative Accelerando program.

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Inspiration and Music Education

Nashville School of the Arts Early Music Consort performs at Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, May 13, 2013 (click images to enlarge)

 

In the contemporary climate of data-driven education, you don’t hear much about inspiration in the popular rhetoric about music education and its role and purpose in the lives of children. But in fact the music teacher’s most important responsibility is to inspire her students.

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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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100 Years of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)~ click images to enlarge

Today is the one-hundredth birthday of the American musician and activist Pete Seeger – Pete was born on May 3, 1919 in Manhattan. Like all Americans, whether we are aware of it or not, Pete’s life and work has had a profound effect on me, and I am grateful. When he finally left us a little over five years ago at the age of 94, Pete had accumulated a lasting  legacy of using music to create positive change in the world that few musicians – or anyone else – can claim to have achieved. We are all so lucky to have shared the world with him.

I was also incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to perform on stage with him at children’s concerts for Fieldston Outdoors in the early 1990s. Thank you, Pete.

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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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