Walter Bitner

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BACHanalia 2018

The 12th annual BACHanalia – our city’s annual Bach festival – will be held on Friday, March 16 from 4 – 10 pm at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway in downtown Nashville. Once a year, musicians from many parts of our community come together to present this unique six-hour concert-without-pause devoted to Sebastian’s music, generously hosted by our friends at the cathedral in their beautiful sanctuary.

BACHanalia is one of the highlights of the musical year in Music City.

Once again this year, I was given a special glimpse of the program in advance of this year’s concert, which I leak to you here, Off The Podium readership. We’re in for a tremendous evening of music-making!

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Chamber Music Series 2017-18 at the Nashville Symphony

Registration for free tickets to our next performance in the Nashville Series Chamber Music Series  featuring Roger Wiesmeyer is now open. In fact, the entire season’s programming for this series has been announced.

Formerly known as OnStage, this popular series of informal chamber music performances designed and performed by Nashville Symphony musicians has outgrown its previous format, and is now presented with attendees seated on the floor of the concert hall. The new setting will retain the relaxed and interactive concert experience that has made these events so popular with music lovers.

All Chamber Music Series concerts are presented in Laura Turner Hall at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. These events are free and open to the public, but you must have a ticket to attend.

Here is the schedule for this season’s remaining Chamber Music Series concerts:

 

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Martha Argerich: The Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon

(click photos to enlarge)

When Deutsche Grammophon released a box set of Martha Argerich’s complete recordings for their label in September 2015, I coveted it immediately, eventually succumbing to temptation and purchasing it for my CD library. This summer I made a project of slowly listening to all 48 CDs in order of release, savoring each recording and listening to many of them several times. OK, most of them.

Just in case you’re not a classical pianist, or slept through the last fifty years, Martha Argerich is widely regarded as one of our greatest living pianists, and certainly as one of the most important classical artists of the post-WWII era.

Which makes this stupendous collection – a wide-ranging survey of all of her recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and Philips spanning 55 years from 1959 to 2014 – perhaps the single greatest collection of recorded classical piano music in history. It’s astounding.

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Blair School of Music: Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute 2017

Joseph Haydn and friends playing string quartets

This summer, Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music will host their first ever Adult Summer Chamber Music Institute. The brainchild of Pam Schneller, Blair’s Associate Dean for the Precollege and Adult Program and Senior Lecturer in Choral Music, this special four-day program is the first of its kind in our area (as far as I know) – a unique opportunity for adult amateur string players to come together and make music in an intimate setting.

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BACHanalia 2017

On Friday, March 31, from 4 – 10 pm, Christ Church Cathedral at 900 Broadway in downtown Nashville proudly presents the 11th Annual BACHanalia. This unique, beloved event is a continuous, six hour concert of our friend Sebastian’s music presented once a year as a gift to the community. Click here for the church’s official announcement of the event. Note the new times! This year’s event will be held from 4 – 10 pm, not 5 – 11 pm as in previous years.

Again this year I was very lucky, and was granted a sneak peak at BACHanalia 2017‘s performers and selections, which I now leak to you here, oh readers of Off The Podium. Warning: Spoilers!

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BACHanalia 2016

our friend Sebastian

our friend Sebastian

Next Friday, April 15, from 5 – 11 pm, more than 100 Nashville musicians align efforts to perform the 10th Annual BACHanalia at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway in downtown Nashville. This unique, beloved event is a continuous, six hour concert of our friend Sebastian’s music presented once a year as a gift to the community. Click here for the church’s official announcement of the event.

In past years I have brought student ensembles to perform in this event, and this year I am fortunate to be performing myself. I was also very lucky, and was leaked a sneak peak at BACHanalia 2016‘s performers and selections, which I am now going to share with you here, dear readers of Off The Podium. Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

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Meet Telemann

Telemannwide

To his 18th century contemporaries, Georg Philipp Telemann was the most famous, influential, and highly-regarded German musician of the day. Four years older than his friends J.S. Bach and Händel – both of whose reputations have now eclipsed his – Telemann was more prolific than either, wrote sacred and secular, vocal and instrumental music in virtually every genre, published on a nearly unprecedented scale, and did more than any other musician of his time to break down barriers that kept music a separate and elite component of civic, court, and church ceremony to elevate the role of music in the life of the middle class.

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One on a Part

Or, Making Lemonade at the Symphony

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 10.43.59 AM
When the ice storm hit Nashville in February 2015, schools were closed for more than a week.  Two weeks later – at the beginning of March – schools were closed again for a snow storm.  As a result, the Nashville Symphony had to cancel three mornings of Young People’s Concerts at Schermerhorn and a run-out concert to a local high school: we missed 7 performances, which would have put the orchestra in front of around 10,000 students total.

When the weather had passed and all the staff were able to get back in the hall at the same time we held a meeting to comb the calendar for the possibility of making up these canceled events – our Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) are the symphony’s flagship education program, an important component in the execution of our education mission.  Usually these concerts are scheduled more than a year in advance, due to the difficulty in finding times when the availability of the orchestra, the conductor, scheduled guest artists, the MNPS school calendar, and the hall all line up and allow time not only for performances but rehearsals also.  Young People’s Concerts are written into the initial schedule for the orchestra each year for this reason – it’s nearly impossible to find adequate dates and times when all these elements align mid-season.

And so it proved.

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Boy Wonder

The Nashville Symphony warms up in the pit at TPAC's jackson Hall before a performance of A Midsummer's Night Dream with the Nashville Ballet, April 24, 21015

The Nashville Symphony warms up in the pit at TPAC’s jackson Hall before a performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream with the Nashville Ballet, April 24, 2015

Nashville Symphony musicians are in the process of performing in three programs featuring the music of the German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn.  Beginning last Friday through Sunday, the symphony accompanied the Nashville Ballet in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.

Then (TONIGHT) Wednesday evening, April 29, symphony violinist Jessica Blackwell leads two string ensembles in performances of Mendelssohn’s famous Octet, as well as the Prelude and Scherzo, Op. 11 for string octet by Dmitri Shostakovich, as part of our ongoing Onstage series of free chamber music performances at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Finally, beginning (TOMORROW)  Thursday, April 30 with performances following on Friday, May 1 and Saturday May 2, the symphony will perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with guest soloist Benjamin Pasternack in a program that also includes music by contemporary composer Frank Tichelli and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique”.

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