Walter Bitner

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Category Archives: Chamber Music

Blair School of Music: Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute 2017

Joseph Haydn and friends playing string quartets

This summer, Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music will host their first ever Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute. The brainchild of Pam Schneller, Blair’s Associate Dean for the Precollege and Adult Program and Senior Lecturer in Choral Music, this special four-day program is the first 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.

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BACHanalia 2017

On Friday, March 31, from 4 – 10 pm, Christ Church Cathedral at 900 Broadway in downtown Nashville proudly presents the 11th Annual BACHanalia. This unique, beloved event is a continuous, six hour concert of our friend Sebastian’s music presented once a year as a gift to the community. Click here for the church’s official announcement of the event. Note the new times! This year’s event will be held from 4 – 10 pm, not 5 – 11 pm as in previous years.

Again this year I was very lucky, and was granted a sneak peak at BACHanalia 2017‘s performers and selections, which I now leak to you here, oh readers of Off The Podium. Warning: Spoilers!

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Barthold Kujiken with Music City Baroque

Barthold Kujiken

March is Early Music Month, an annual campaign to promote awareness of early music throughout the North American musical community. Early Music Month is promoted and designed by Early Music America, a national organization that facilitates and encourages communication, collaboration, raising awareness, and sharing resources for those interested in historical performance and music before the 19th century.

It’s therefore timely – and no surprise – that our fair Music City has several phenomenal events coming up this month that feature live performances of music from the old repertoires, including both performances by local ensembles and rare visits from acclaimed European musicians.

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15th Annual Mozart Birthday Concerts

(l to r) Nashville Symphony musicians Gil Perel & Roger Wiesmeyer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. For the 15th consecutive year, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations in honor of the Austrian wunderkind’s birthday. As in years past, this year’s events feature an ensemble of local musicians – including members of the Nashville Symphony, free-lance professionals, and amateurs – who will perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Amadeus.

This year’s concerts will take place:

Friday, January 13, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Monday, January 23, 7 pm, at Edgehill United Methodist Church, 1502 Edgehill Avenue, Nashville.

This year’s concerts feature:

Piano Sonata in B flat Major, K. 333
Roger Wiesmeyer, piano solo

Bassoon Concerto in B flat Major, K. 191/186e
Gil Perel, bassoon solo
Mozart Birthday Festival Orchestra

Proceeds will benefit the Mary Parrish Center for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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Nashville Philharmonic Premieres Chris Farrell’s Violin Concerto

Chris Farrell & Jessica Blackwell

Chris Farrell & Jessica Blackwell

Next week the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra will give world premiere performances of a new violin concerto by Nashville composer Christopher Farrell on the program of their upcoming “Royal Coronation” concerts on December 6 & December 11. Among Nashville’s (now several) volunteer community orchestras, the NPO is the most well-established and performs the most demanding and developed series of concerts each year. These performances will be led by NPO Music Director Christopher Norton and feature NPO Concertmaster Jessica Blackwell as soloist, for whom Farrell wrote the concerto.

Both Chris and Jessica are longstanding members of the Nashville Symphony. I first met them both years ago when I was directing Music City Youth Orchestra: Jessica led sectional rehearsals for our violinists, and Chris taught private lessons to some of our students. I’ve had the great pleasure of collaborating with them on a number of projects here at the symphony over the last couple of years, and was excited to get together with them to talk about the new concerto.

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BACHanalia 2016

our friend Sebastian

our friend Sebastian

Next Friday, April 15, from 5 – 11 pm, more than 100 Nashville musicians align efforts to perform the 10th Annual BACHanalia at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway in downtown Nashville. This unique, beloved event is a continuous, six hour concert of our friend Sebastian’s music presented once a year as a gift to the community. Click here for the church’s official announcement of the event.

In past years I have brought student ensembles to perform in this event, and this year I am fortunate to be performing myself. I was also very lucky, and was leaked a sneak peak at BACHanalia 2016‘s performers and selections, which I am now going to share with you here, dear readers of Off The Podium. Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

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Meet Telemann

Telemannwide

To his 18th century contemporaries, Georg Philipp Telemann was the most famous, influential, and highly-regarded German musician of the day. Four years older than his friends J.S. Bach and Händel – both of whose reputations have now eclipsed his – Telemann was more prolific than either, wrote sacred and secular, vocal and instrumental music in virtually every genre, published on a nearly unprecedented scale, and did more than any other musician of his time to break down barriers that kept music a separate and elite component of civic, court, and church ceremony to elevate the role of music in the life of the middle class.

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14th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

detail from a portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, painted in 1782 by his brother in law Joseph Lange. Mozart wrote the C minor piano concerto in the winter of 1785-86

detail from a portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, painted in 1782 by his brother in law Joseph Lange. Mozart wrote the C minor piano concerto in the winter of 1785-86

This month Roger Wiesmeyer and an ensemble of local musicians – many of them members of the Nashville Symphony – will perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as Roger has done every year at this time since 2003.

This year’s concerts will take place:

Friday, January 15, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Sunday, January 31, 6 pm, at Edgehill United Methodist Church, 1502 Edgehill Avenue, Nashville.

This year’s concert features the C minor piano concerto, K. 491 conducted by Vinay Parameswaran with Roger as piano soloist. Admission is $10, and all proceeds benefit The Contributor.

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Roger Wiesmeyer Plays Mozart

Roger Wiesmeyer

Roger Wiesmeyer

“I just adore it.” says Roger Wiesmeyer, speaking of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491. “I’ve never played it on piano before. I’ve sat in the orchestra for performances of this concerto three or four times and every time it just completely captures my imagination, for at least the week after – I’ll have at least two weeks of living with it and thinking about it all the time. There is this incredible mood that Mozart casts with this piece.”

A few days ago Roger and I sat down after a rehearsal to talk about this piece, which we will be collaborating together to perform this week.  Roger will be performing the solo piano part – the part originally played by Amadeus himself – and I am playing a reduction of the orchestra’s part on second piano for the first and third movements.  The second movement – a slow Larghetto – will be performed by Roger joined by Nashville Symphony musicians Kate Ladner, flute; Jeremy Williams, violin; and Keith Nicholas, cello in a quartet arrangement by Johann Nepomunk Hummel, an Austrian composer and pianist who was a contemporary of Beethoven.

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One on a Part

Or, Making Lemonade at the Symphony

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 10.43.59 AM
When the ice storm hit Nashville in February 2015, schools were closed for more than a week.  Two weeks later – at the beginning of March – schools were closed again for a snow storm.  As a result, the Nashville Symphony had to cancel three mornings of Young People’s Concerts at Schermerhorn and a run-out concert to a local high school: we missed 7 performances, which would have put the orchestra in front of around 10,000 students total.

When the weather had passed and all the staff were able to get back in the hall at the same time we held a meeting to comb the calendar for the possibility of making up these canceled events – our Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) are the symphony’s flagship education program, an important component in the execution of our education mission.  Usually these concerts are scheduled more than a year in advance, due to the difficulty in finding times when the availability of the orchestra, the conductor, scheduled guest artists, the MNPS school calendar, and the hall all line up and allow time not only for performances but rehearsals also.  Young People’s Concerts are written into the initial schedule for the orchestra each year for this reason – it’s nearly impossible to find adequate dates and times when all these elements align mid-season.

And so it proved.

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