Walter Bitner

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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.


The Contestants


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.