Walter Bitner

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Side By Side 2017

Curb Youth Symphony & Nashville Symphony musicians rehearse for the annual Side By Side performance, May 16, 2017 ~ photo by Kelley Bell (click to enlarge)

Last week – on Wednesday, May 17, Curb Youth Symphony joined the Nashville Symphony 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 annual Side By Side event was conducted ( for the first time) by Nashville Symphony Music Director & Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. For two days many of Middle Tennessee’s most accomplished teenage musicians thronged the halls of Schermerhorn Symphony Center, rubbing shoulders with Nashville Symphony musicians backstage and sharing stands with them on stage as we rehearsed and performed this much anticipated event.

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Curb Concerto Competition Finalists 2017

2017 Curb Concerto Competition Finalists: (l to r) Maggie Kasinger, Kaili Wang, Chloe Harvel, Daniel Hosny

2017 Curb Concerto Competition Finalists: (l to r) Maggie Kasinger, Kaili Wang, Chloe Harvel, Daniel Hosny ~ photos by Sally Bebawy (click to enlarge)

This past weekend we had the great pleasure of welcoming a dozen teenage musicians into the hall to compete in the annual Curb Concerto Competition. The first round of the competition took place on Saturday, Februrary 25 and the finals round occurred on Sunday afternoon, February 26, which resulted in the selection of this year’s winner, who will perform with the Nashville Symphony at the annual Side By Side Concert with Curb Youth Symphony on May 17. The 2017 Side By Side Concert will be conducted by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero.

This year’s contestants included 6 violinists, 3 pianists, and one student each on cello, harp, and flute. Both rounds of the competition took place on the stage of Laura Turner Hall at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

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2017 Accelerando and Curb Concerto Competition Applications Open Today

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Online applications for two major Nashville Symphony education programs are now live: qualified students may apply to audition in early 2017 for both our groundbreaking new Accelerando program and our annual Curb Concerto Competition.

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Side By Side 2016

The Nashville Symphony and Curb Youth Symphony perform the annual Side By Side concert, May 19, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

The Nashville Symphony and Curb Youth Symphony perform the annual Side By Side concert, May 19, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

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.

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Curb Concerto Competition Finalists 2016

2016 Curb Concerto Competition Finalists: (l to r) Jocelyn Hartley, Clara Warford, Maggie Kasinger, Shawn Zheng, Kazuki Takizawa. March 6, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

2016 Curb Concerto Competition Finalists: (l to r) Jocelyn Hartley, Clara Warford, Maggie Kasinger, Shawn Zheng, Kazuki Takizawa. March 6, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

I’m very pleased to share the news here that this year’s Curb Concerto Competition was a great success, and featured a high level of playing on the parts of the participants. Students ages 14 to 18 competed for thousands of dollars in prize money and the chance to perform with the Nashville Symphony in our annual competition, held this year on March 5 & 6 here at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. All told, this year’s competition included 16 string, brass, and piano students, each of whom performed their auditions on the stage of Laura Turner Hall.

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Curb Concerto Competition 2016

IMG_4123Dear interested students, parents, and teachers,

This is an open letter discussing some policy changes (changes to the rules) for the annual Curb Concerto Competition at Schermerhorn Symphony Center this season.  Student musicians who are considering auditioning for the competition – which will be held on March 5 & 6, 2016 – are advised to read carefully through these changes, as are their teachers and anyone else involved in helping students prepare for this event.

Click here to access the complete guidelines and calendar regulating the competition posted on the Nashville Symphony website.  Please refer to this webpage for many details not discussed in this letter.  The purpose of this letter is to draw your attention to changes that have been made for the 2016 competition from the way things have been done in previous years.  These changes may affect the preparation of your audition, and how early you make your application.

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Side By Side 2015

Nashville Symphony concertmaster Jun Iwasaki & Curb Youth Symphony violinist Maggie Kasinger backstage before the annual Side-By-Side concert, May 22, 2015

Nashville Symphony Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki & CYS Principal Second Violin Maggie Kasinger backstage before the annual Side-By-Side concert, May 21, 2015

This week the Nashville Symphony was joined by students from Curb Youth Symphony, Carol Nies, director, for our annual Side-By-Side Concert, featuring a truly massive combined orchestra on stage in Laura Turner Hall for a day of rehearsals on Wednesday and the performance on Thursday night.  The orchestra was conducted by Nashville Symphony Assistant Conductor Vinay Parameswaran on performances of Rossini’s Overture to William Tell, the third movement of the Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns featuring 2015 Curb Competition winner Kaili Wang, and the Finale from Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius.  The concert closed with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s masterful Romeo and Juliet Overture, conducted by Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero.

Spirits were high in the hall as symphony musicians were joined by teenagers from throughout Middle Tennessee – for many of our musicians this annual event is nostalgic and special as so many of them played in youth orchestras themselves when they were in high school.

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The Contestants

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They arrive at the hall separately. After checking in at the registration table, they sit at tables in the dimly lit lobby and wait. There is some hushed conversation murmuring amongst the pillars but it is mostly between those that accompanied them; the contestants do not talk to each other.

All are teenagers. The rules specify that contestants must be at least fourteen and no older than eighteen the day of the competition – no regulation regarding school grade levels was made this year, so although most of them are in high school, there are two contestants who are college freshmen, and at least one eighth grader. Of the twenty-one who completed the application and are scheduled to audition, exactly two-thirds are girls. Originally nine boys were scheduled to compete but two withdrew in the past week, one of them bowing out only last night.

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