Walter Bitner

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Category Archives: Orchestral

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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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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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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Ravel

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) ~ click images to enlarge

Today is March 7, the birthday of French composer Maurice Ravel. I remembered this because last night I was reading Jean Echenoz’s terrific biographical novel – unsurprisingly titled Ravel – and came across the passage in Chapter Five when the protagonist celebrates his fifty-third birthday with a big crowd in New York that includes George Gershwin, who played The Man I Love for him.

Although perhaps not a constant presence, Ravel’s music has been an important and recurring strand in the web of my musical life.

Do you like Ravel? I think it’s interesting that we understand this question to mean “Do you like Ravel’s music?”, as if the man and the music he wrote were the same thing.

I’ve never met anyone who admitted that they didn’t like Ravel’s music.

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SphinxConnect 2019

 

At the end of January I traveled to Detroit, Michigan to attend the largest and most impactful event of its kind: the 7th annual Sphinx conference “SphinxConnect” and the the 22nd annual Sphinx Competition. This is the fourth year in a row that I spent the first weekend of February in Detroit! and it was the third year in which I was engaged to be a speaker.

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Rain Music

Cliffs at Pourville Rain 1896 by Claude Monet (1840-1926)

It has been raining here for weeks. The rivers are overflowing their banks, school districts all over the region canceled classes yesterday because of flooding, and all of us who work downtown are watching the water rise anxiously.

It is difficult to escape a sense a déjà vu as memories of the 2010 flood that devastated our city resurface and fears that history could repeat itself arise.

As I drove into town this morning to produce our annual concerto competition, I found myself thinking about all of the music about rain that has been a part of my life.

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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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Collaboration: The Association of British Orchestras Annual Conference 2018

Wales Millenium Center (click images to enlarge)

Continued from
Three Days in London

It was the second week of September, 2017 – the week after Labor Day here in the U.S., which is the traditional opening week for orchestras across the country. In Nashville, we were preparing for our Symphony Gala – a grand, festive event that opened our season this year with the incomparable John Williams conducting the Nashville Symphony in a concert of his own works. Symphony offices were already bustling with activity in preparation for this and so many other aspects involved in kicking off the new season.

I was already in a state of excitement when an email arrived in my Inbox from Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras inviting me to speak at their upcoming conference in Cardiff, Wales.

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Christmas Oratorio at West End United Methodist

West End Chancel Choir and Orchestra, Matthew Phelps, conductor, perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Part 1, BWV 248 ~ December 3, 2017, West End United Methodist Church, Nashville (click images to enlarge)

 

When I first met Dr. Matthew Phelps nearly two years ago, one of the first things he shared with me was his desire to present Sebastian’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 at West End during the advent season. I was excited to hear this, since the Christmas Oratorio is rarely performed compared to Sebastian’s other large scale choral works like the Passions and the B minor Mass, and I had never heard it performed live before. So when I found out earlier this fall that it was happening this year, I marked my calendar and made sure I could be there. (more…)

Nashville Philharmonic to Perform Brahms’ Double & Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music

(click images to enlarge)

Next month, violinist Denise Baker and cellist Michael Samis will join the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra directed by music director Christopher Norton in two performances of Johannes Brahms’ final orchestral work, the grand Double Concerto. The NPO’s annual December concerts this year will also include performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music in a version featuring violin soloist Jessica Blackwell, a quartet of (vocal) soloists and the NPO Festival Chorus.

Among Nashville’s several volunteer community orchestras, the NPO is the largest and most well-established (now celebrating their 15th season), performs the most demanding and developed series of concerts each year, and has a strong network of relationships with the Nashville Symphony. Denise Baker and Jessica Blackwell – who serve as co-concertmasters of the NPO as well as violin soloists on the upcoming concerts – and are both members of the symphony, and several other symphony musicians provide support and coaching to NPO musicians.

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