Walter Bitner

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Bach on the Lute: 70 Years of Recordings, Part I

Smith, Hopkinson, 1981-82/1987. Johann Sebastian Bach: L’œvre de Luth. Auvidis E 7721. AAD (2 CDs) ~ click images to enlarge

The Lute Appendix iii c

Just in time for Sebastian’s birthday (March 21 or 31, depending on your calendar preference): here is an overview of recordings of his music performed on the lute. While perhaps not complete, I believe that the major recordings that have been released on compact disc are described or at least acknowledged here, and many others besides. (Lute performances available on CD are nearly the only recordings considered here.) I trust that members of the lute community won’t hesitate to let me know what I have missed!

Most of the compact disc recordings referred to in this article (and many more besides) are listed in the discography to this series.

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BACHanalia 2019

click images to enlarge

 

Nashville’s 13th annual Bach festival – our beloved BACHanalia – will be held:

Friday, March 29, 2019 from 4 – 10 pm
Christ Church Cathedral
900 Broadway in downtown Nashville.

This event is one of the highlights of the musical year in Music City.

A broad spectrum of musicians from our unique community come together at this time each year to present this one-of-a-kind six-hour concert-without-pause devoted to Sebastian’s music, generously hosted by our friends at the cathedral in their beautiful sanctuary.

For the last several years I’ve had the privilege of learning of the program and schedule ahead of the event and voila! here it is. It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by.

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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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Curb Concerto Competition Finalists 2019

2019 Curb Concerto Competition Finalists: (l to r) Jaime Kim, Luke Turner, Jocelyn Hartley ~ photos by Kathleen Munkel (click to enlarge)

 

As we have done each winter for more than twenty years, the Nashville Symphony hosted our annual Curb Concerto Competition for students ages 14-18 last month.

The first round of the competition took place on Saturday, Februrary 23 before a panel of Nashville Symphony musicians who selected three finalists. These three young soloists then proceeded to the finals round which was adjudicated by a different panel that took place the following afternoon, February 24. This year’s winner will perform with the Nashville Symphony at the annual Side By Side Concert with Curb Youth Symphony on May 7. The 2019 Side By Side Concert will be conducted by Nashville Symphony Assistant Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yańez.

Nineteen superlative young musicians from across Tennessee and beyond competed in this year’s competition: 6 flute players, 4 violinists, 3 pianists, 2 clarinetists, 2 saxophonists, and one student each on cello and bassoon. Both rounds took place on the stage of Laura Turner Hall at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

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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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The Golden Age of English Lute Music

Elizabeth I playing the lute by Nicolas Hilliard, c. 1580 ~ Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, UK (click images to enlarge)

The Lute Part XIII

The reign of Queen Elizabeth I – an astounding 45 years from 1558 to 1603 – is often referred to as the Golden Age of English history. The long rule of the Virgin Queen brought momentous advances for England: colonization of the New World and circumnavigation of the globe by English privateers, the dramatic defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, Elizabeth and her advisors’ miraculous achievement of reestablishing and maintaining a Protestant state for nearly fifty years in the face of continental Catholic opposition.

England brought forth an artistic and cultural flowering under Queen Elizabeth – most famously in the development of the theatre and the work of the playwright William Shakespeare, whom she patronized. Music, too, flourished during the Golden Age: English musicians were renowned not only at home but abroad for their excellence and virtuosity, and the Queen herself not only patronized court musicians, she played the lute herself.

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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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The Forest presents Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Part 2

The Forest at The Barbershop Theater, Nashville, October 31, 2018. (l to r) WB, Kate Atanian, Ryan Middagh, Eric Brewer, Andrew Guinn, Mario Galati, Michael McLemore, Alex Blizniak, Danesa Harper, Kari Leigh Ames, Brian Hull (click images to enlarge)

 

Continued from Part 1

 

Taking it apart in order to put it all together

Concurrent with all the logistics and planning for the show’s “big picture”, I spent time last summer trying to figure out exactly what keyboards I would need to be able to play the show and how they would be set up.

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The Forest presents Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Part 1

The Forest performs Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon at The Barbershop Theater, November 1, 2018 (l to r) Michael McLemore, Alex Blizniak, Eric Brewer, Andrew Guinn, Danesa Harper, Kate Atanian, Walter Bitner, Ryan Middagh (click images to enlarge)

 

In 2018, I found myself playing in a rock band for the first time in over thirty years. This is what happened!

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17th Annual Mozart’s Birthday Concerts

This month, Roger Wiesmeyer’s Mozart in Nashville will present concert celebrations to honor the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 263rd birthday. This annual tradition features an ensemble of local musicians – often including members of the Nashville Symphony, free-lance professionals, and amateurs – who perform two benefit concerts for a local charity featuring music by Amadeus, who was born on January 27, 1756.

The 2019 concerts will take place:

Friday, January 18, noon, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road, Nashville.

Saturday, January 19, 3 pm, at W.O. Smith Music School1125 8th Avenue South, Nashville

This year’s concerts feature:

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Françoise Pierredon & Roger Wiesmeyer, piano four-hands

Adagio in C, K. 356
Dennis James, glass armonica

Adagio and Rondo, K. 617
Dennis James, glass armonica
Jessica Dunnavant, flute
Roger Wiesmeyer, oboe
Kris Wilkinson, viola
Keith Nicholas, cello

These special events will benefit the The Little Pantry That Could, who provide produce and shelf stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need.

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