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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Farewell, Vinay Parameswaran

Vinay Parameswaran

Today, the Nashville Symphony announced that Vinay Parameswaran will be leaving his position as Associate Conductor here to become Assistant Conductor at The Cleveland Orchestra. Vinay leaves Nashville in June to assume his new responsibilities. It has been our privilege to work closely with Vinay on many education and community programs in the last couple years, and I know I speak on behalf of the entire EDCE department – and everyone here at the Nashville Symphony – in expressing how much we will miss him. Vinay is a tremendously talented, insightful, and positive musician and it has been a joy to collaborate with him.

Last week Vinay and I sat down for an hour to reminisce about his time at the Nashville Symphony and reviewed some of the highlights of the last several years.

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Barthold Kujiken with Music City Baroque

Barthold Kujiken

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.

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2017 Jazz OnStage: My Favorite Things

I was thrilled this week to be a part of this season’s Jazz OnStage: an exciting part of the OnStage series of free chamber music concerts at the Nashville Symphony.

The OnStage series is a longstanding part of the Nashville Symphony’s community engagement programming –  I’ve written about these programs in a number of previous posts here on Off The Podium. The concept behind OnStage is simple: on selected weeknights throughout the season, Nashville Symphony musicians present an early evening chamber music concert in which the audience is seated on the stage with the musicians, and the program includes the opportunity for dialogue between the musicians and the audience.

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The 2017 Schermerhorn Invitational Choral Festival

Today the Nashville Symphony hosted the first ever Schermerhorn Invitational Choral Festival at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Monday, February 6, 2017: three choirs from Middle Tennessee public high schools gathered for a day of music making on the stage of Laura Turner Hall under the direction of Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe, Interim Director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus and Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.

A wonderful day of music and camaraderie was had by all as our beautiful concert hall was filled with the joyful sound of young people singing for and with each other. Here follows some impressions and photos from the day!

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Accelerando Auditions 2017

Accelerando wind students Isabel Evernham, Bernard Ekwuazi, and Aalia Hanif at MTSBOA MidState Band, January 21, 2017

(l to r) Accelerando winds students Isabel Evernham, Bernard Ekwuazi, and Aalia Hanif at MTSBOA MidState Band, January 21, 2017 ~ photo courtesy of Shahnela Hanif

Tonight, January 24, 2017, Nashville Symphony EDCE staff will hold our first of three public information meetings for students interested in auditioning this year for the symphony’s award-winning Accelerando program. Tonight’s public meeting will be held at Casa Azafrán at 7 pm.

Founded in 2016,  Accelerando is designed to prepare gifted young students of diverse backgrounds to pursue music at the collegiate level and beyond. Accelerando seeks to create professional opportunities for musicians from ethnic communities underrepresented in today’s orchestras by providing them with instruction, mentorship, performance experience and assistance applying to music schools. With access to the resources of a major American orchestra, these students will be able to realize their full potential and will form the next generation of orchestra musicians.

Our inaugural class of six students from grades 7 – 10 entered the program in the fall of 2016; we are seeking to grow our enrollment to a total of eleven students in 2017. Please help spread the word about this unique, ground-breaking program and help us find these students!

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Introducing Kimberly McLemore, Accelerando Manager

Kimberly Kraft McLemore, Accelerando Manager, Nashville Symphony

Kimberly Kraft McLemore, Accelerando Manager, Nashville Symphony

2017 is upon us! and Education and Community Engagement staff at the Nashville Symphony are very busy with preparations for our upcoming Young People’s Concerts in January and February,  Curb Concerto Competition on February 25 & 26, and our second season of Accelerando auditions.

Founded in 2016, the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando initiative is designed to prepare gifted young students of diverse backgrounds to pursue music at the collegiate level and beyond.

 

Families interested in learning more about Accelerando are invited to attend one of three public meetings with Nashville Symphony staff:

  • 7-8:30 pm January 24 at Casa Azafrán, 2195 Nolensville Pike, Nashville
  • 7-8:30 pm February 2 at Hartman Park Community Center, 2801 Tucker Rd., Nashville
  • 7-8:30 pm February 16 at Casa Azafrán, 2195 Nolensville Pike, Nashville

Click here for Application Information & Audition Requirements.

The deadline to apply for 2017 Accelerando Auditions is February 17, 2017.

Kelley, Kristen, and I are thrilled to welcome Kimberly Kraft McLemore to the symphony’s Education and Community Engagement staff. This week I sat down with Kimberly to speak about the experience she brings to her new role as Accelerando Manager.

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2016: What Kind of Blog Is This?

Off The Podium Reflections, Statistics, and Top Ten Posts

As I did last year at this time, here I review my experience writing Off The Podium this year and share some statistics, what I have learned, and come clean on what exactly this blog is about.

The year has been a wild ride. Off The Podium has provided a great means to share the activities of the department of Education & Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony and the launch of our Accelerando program with the Nashville community and the world. It has also continued to provide me with a format and incentive to develop my writing on the topics of Music and Education – regular features of Off The Podium that now reach thousands of readers all over the world.

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The Hallelujah Chorus

The Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Symphony Chorus gather onstage moments before a performance of Händel's Messiah, December 18, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

The Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Symphony Chorus gather onstage moments before a performance of Händel’s Messiah, December 18, 2016, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville

Part of a series of articles on
Preparing a School Winter Solstice Performance

This past week the Nashville Symphony performed our annual string of December Messiah concerts. An annual event featuring a different conductor and vision for the performance of this masterwork each year, it is remarkable to me how resilient Händel’s Messiah is, and how much the community here at the symphony -as well as the larger surrounding community of Music City – looks forward to it every year. It’s one of those monuments of the repertoire that has become part of the collective consciousness.

This year’s performance with guest conductor Christopher Warren-Green brought a historically-informed perspective to the performance, with brisk tempi and the incorporation of a theorbist who doubled on baroque guitar to the continuo section. I was thrilled to hear how excited our musicians were about Messiah this year in conversations I had with them (or overheard) during rehearsals. Sitting in the balcony on Sunday afternoon for the final matinee performance, the enthusiasm of the musicians and the audience was palpable. In the exhilaration following the concert I found myself thinking a lot about this remarkable piece of music, and especially one movement in particular – the unique and absolutely one-of-a-kind Hallelujah Chorus – and why and how it occupies such a singular place in our musical culture.

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Education & Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony: Fall 2016 Review

Kristen Freeman, Kelley Bell, and Walter Bitner, October 17, 2016 ~ photo courtesy of Roger Wiesmeyer

Once again December is here. Thanksgiving is past and the headlong rush to the end of the year has begun. Over the last unseasonably warm months as we waited for fall to come, the Nashville Symphony has continued to fulfill our mission to bring music to the community through our education and community engagement programs, in addition to our multitude of concert offerings. It’s a veritable musical banquet for Music City here at Schermerhorn Symphony Center!

Let’s look back on the activities of our department this fall:

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