“I’m really excited about our final pair of concerts this season!” said Christopher Norton, music director of the Nashville Philharmonic, Music City’s volunteer community orchestra. “There are so many connections to the Nashville community inherent in this program, and it encompasses the Nashville Philharmonic’s commitment to education, outreach, and the advancement of the arts.”
Last week I spoke with Dr. Norton and the soloists who are featured on the upcoming programs on May 7 and May 9, including the winners of the NPO’s 2017 concerto and composition competitions.
Music City’s unique Nashville Concerto Orchestra will present their fourth concert next Saturday, April 15, bringing full circle the NCO’s first annual cycle of seasonal concerts that began with their Summer 2016 concert last June.
This week I spoke with the orchestra’s founder Roger Wiesmeyer and this concert’s soloists about the upcoming program and the special opportunities this ensemble provides.
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.
Earlier this month – February 9-12, 2017 – our entire Nashville Symphony Education & Community Engagement Department attended the Sphinx Organization‘s 20th annual Competition and 5th annual conference in Detroit, retitled SphinxConnect this year.
We spent an eventful four days attending concerts, interviews, panel discussions, and presentations, several networking (and celebratory) receptions, and other meetings. Some 500 people were there from all over the country (and some from other countries as well), many of whom only see each other a few times per year. The entire conference was imbued with a heady excitement.
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.
On Wednesday, October 19 at 12 pm, the Nashville Concerto Orchestra will give the first and second performances of Michael Rose‘s concerto for cello and orchestra Sedentary Dances in its full orchestration. Felix Wang – who premiered the concerto in January 2013 in its initial version with Michael playing a reduction of the orchestration at the piano – will again perform the cello solo, and the orchestra will be conducted by Joseph Lee. The concert will take place in the sanctuary of West End United Methodist Church, Nashville.
Last week I spoke with Michael and Felix, and with Roger Wiesmeyer, who is the founder and inspirer for the Nashville Concerto Orchestra – and is so often found at the heart of classical music happenings in Music City.
Roger Wiesmeyer’s multi-faceted role in the Nashville classical music scene has long been a important presence in our community. Born in Nashville, Roger grew up here and attended Hillsboro High School and Blair School of Music before going away to school at Curtis Institute and on to positions in the Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Honolulu symphonies. He returned to Nashville in 2001 to become the Nashville Symphony’s english horn player. In addition to his work as an oboist and english horn player, Roger is an accomplished pianist, and he has presented annual concerts to celebrate Mozart’s birthday every year since 2003.
This month Roger is launching a new project – and gift – to Music City: the Nashville Concerto Orchestra.
Last night, Thursday, May 19, the Nashville Symphony hosted the annual Side By Side concert with Curb Youth Symphony. With some 150 musicians on stage, I believe this was the largest orchestra I have ever heard on the stage of Laura Turner Hall. Curb Youth Symphony is directed by Carol Nies, and the annual Side By Side event was conducted by Nashville Symphony Associate Conductor Vinay Parameswaran. It included an afternoon and evening of rehearsals on Wednesday – including the traditional pizza party in the break – and Thursday night’s concert.
Next Wednesday, May 11 at 7 pm, the Nashville Symphony and the League of American Orchestras will host the most prestigious event of its kind in North America – right here in Nashville, at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
This is a FREE concert and is open to the public.
The last week has been a flurry of music and activity – the symphony was in the hall rehearsing Rossini, Brahms, and Strauss on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for three performances: our annual High School Young People’s Concert on Friday morning, and Classical Series concerts on Friday and Saturday night. Also on Saturday, we held the first round of our annual Curb Concerto Competition – sixteen teenage instrumentalists competed for cash prizes and the chance to perform a concerto movement with the Nashville Symphony on the stage of Laura Turner Hall! – and on Sunday afternoon we held the competition’s finals. This coming Saturday is our first ever auditions for our new program Accelerando. It’s been a very busy time of year for the Education staff at the Nashville Symphony!
After the final round of the competition was over on Sunday, after photos had been taken and I said goodbye to the finalists and their families, I dashed off a quick email to the symphony’s publicist with details for the press release and then made my way across town to West End United Methodist Church for a special late afternoon concert.