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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.

Violinist Cornelia Heard celebrates Blair’s 50th-anniversary with a little help from her famous family and friends

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When Blair School of Music violinist Cornelia Heard announces she’s giving a concert with a few of her family and friends, classical music fans pay attention. Her closest associates, after all, include some of the classical music world’s most distinguished performers. This Saturday evening, Heard will present one of her family-and-friends concerts at Blair’s Turner Recital […]

Music Review: Gateway Chamber Orchestra’s wind players serenade Nashville

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The chamber orchestra is like the Swiss army knife of classical ensembles. It’s a remarkably versatile musical tool, one capable of performing virtually any style of music using almost any combination of instruments. Not surprisingly, some of the repertoire’s greatest works are written for chamber orchestra. On Monday night, Gateway Chamber Orchestra was at Downtown […]

Music Review: Violinist Simone Porter and the NSO play Paganini with a vengeance

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Midway through violinist Simone Porter’s rendition of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra on Friday night, a jazz concert threatened to break out. No, Porter didn’t give a spontaneous performance of improvised music. Rather, her fiery, impassioned account of Paganini’s fiendishly difficult score prompted one concertgoer to forget his classical decorum, […]

Lost and Found: Nashville Symphony performs the music of American composer Tobias Picker this weekend

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At the end of every one of his piano recitals, the late-great composer-pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff always had to play the same encore, his Prelude in C-sharp minor. Never mind that Rachmaninoff composed that little prelude when he was just 19, and never mind that over the course of his long career, he composed many superior […]

Composer Stephen Paulus was known for his many operas, choral and orchestra works

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The classical music world has lost one of its most lyrically inspired composers. Stephen Paulus, best known for his 1982 opera The Postman Always Rings Twice, died Sunday, Oct. 19 at an assisted living facility in Minnesota following complications from a stroke. He was 65. A remarkably prolific composer, Paulus wrote more than 450 works, […]

Dance Review: Nashville Ballet takes flight in ‘Swan Lake’

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Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake may well be the quintessential classical ballet. This sumptuous spectacle seemingly has everything a balletic bird watcher could want: beautiful ballerinas in snow white tutus; a fairy tale prince and heartless villain; and, of course, the famed Russian composer’s hyperemotional score. But what most recommends Nashville Ballet’s current production is […]

Dance Review: Bandaloop defies gravity at Oz Arts Nashville

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It stands to reason that a vertical dance company would know a lot about the heavens. So the dancers of Bandaloop no doubt had a keen sense that it was safe to start their Oz Arts Nashville performance outdoors on Friday night, despite the clear threat of rain. These terrific Oakland, Calif.-based dancers have been […]

Music Review: At Ingram Hall, Blair String Quartet debuts a new first violinist

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The Blair String Quartet changes personnel about as frequently as the Vatican does, so there was considerable interest in the ensemble’s concert Saturday night at Ingram Hall. Stephen Miahky was making his official debut as the group’s new first violinist. Nashville’s die-hard classical fans were in attendance, and they were eager to hear how this […]

Music Review: NSO and pianist Olga Kern offer up some ravishing Rachmaninoff

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Why on earth would Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra devote their entire concert this weekend at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center to the music of that arch-Romantic Sergei Rachmaninoff? Because of that drop-dead gorgeous slow movement in the composer’s Second Symphony, that’s why. And while they were at it on Friday night, Guerrero and […]

Violinist Stephen Miahky makes his debut with the Blair String Quartet

Photograph (C) Beowulf Sheehan

Classical musicians seldom get to feel like rock stars. But violinist Stephen Miahky got that chance while still a doctoral student at Rutgers University. The Dalai Lama was touring the U.S., and Miahky and another doctoral student were invited to perform for him. It became Miahky’s U2 moment, since he performed in a football stadium. “I […]

Music Review: At NSO concert, Yo-Yo Ma shines in the music of Edward Elgar and Matt Walker

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The cellist Yo-Yo Ma is one of only two or three classical musicians whose name still elicits a glimmer of recognition from the general public. Not surprisingly, regional orchestras everywhere want to book him. Ma’s fame was readily apparent at his Nashville Symphony Orchestra concert on Wednesday night at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. He was […]

Music Review: Meyer and Thile cut up the stage at Ingram Hall

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The hilarious comedy team of Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile brought the house down with their zany antics on Tuesday night at Ingram Hall. Along the way, the duo also performed double bass and mandolin with breathtaking virtuosity, extemporized brilliantly, and even found a kind of folksy sublimity in the music of J.S. Bach. Meyer, […]

Music Review: Choir of Clare College performs at Vanderbilt University

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Clare College’s youthful choristers were among kindred spirits during their performance at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music last week. The choirs from both institutions consist entirely of undergraduates. During the performance at Vanderbilt’s Ingram Hall, one could see Blair’s singers cheering enthusiastically for their counterparts from across the pond. The Choir of Clare College, […]

Music Review: An emotional recital from trombonist Jeremy Wilson

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Trombonist Jeremy Wilson almost canceled the terrific recital he presented Sunday night at the Blair School of Music’s Turner Hall. Wilson’s longtime friend and mentor, University of North Texas trombone professor Vern Kagarice, died two weeks ago after a long illness. A celebratory service for the revered trombonist was scheduled for the same day as Wilson’s […]

Bad to the Bone: Trombonist Jeremy Wilson will perform at Blair

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As a young graduate student at the University of North Texas, trombonist Jeremy Wilson figured he’d probably become a jazz musician. North Texas, after all, has one of the country’s finest jazz programs. But then one day he got a call from Ian Boussield, principal trombonist of the mighty Vienna Philharmonic. “He had heard an audition […]

Music Review: Cliburn winner Vadym Kholodenko wows the crowd at Belmont University

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Belmont University’s School of Music has forged a fruitful relationship with the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In recent years, the school has invited finalists from the prestigious Texas-based contest to headline its annual Woods Piano Concert Series. Vadym Kholodenko, the 2013 Cliburn gold medalist, was onstage Thursday night at McAfee Concert Hall. As a personality, […]

Cellist Deidre Emerson will perform at the opening of the Frist Center’s Kandinsky exhibit

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Can abstract instrumental music actually be painted? Wasilly Kandinsky, the celebrated Russian artist, was sure of it. In 1911, he attended a concert in Munich featuring some of the newly minted atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg. To Kandinsky, the father of modern abstract painting, Schoenberg’s thorny, dissonant works came across as heartfelt songs without words. […]

Nashville’s Steinway Piano Gallery marks 85 years in business

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Pop Schuttler didn’t pick the best year to start a business in the United States. In 1929, as the stock market crashed and the country begin its long descent into the Great Depression, Schuttler left his job at a piano dealership to start his own music business in Indiana. Thanks to hard work and perseverance, […]

Nashville Symphony reaches agreement with its musicians

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The musicians of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra have a new contract. On Monday, the NSO announced that it had reached a new, four-year agreement with its musicians that offers three-percent raises during each of the first two years. During the third and fourth years, the NSO will reopen salary negotiations. “We are thrilled that we […]

Music Review: NSO premieres Victor Wooten’s and Conni Ellisor’s ‘The Bass Whisperer’

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Some sounds are seldom heard inside a classical concert hall. For instance, one rarely encounters a high-art concerto for electric-bass guitar and orchestra at a symphony concert. More uncommon still is the sound of a fan shrieking (with delight, I might add) at the sight of a bass player. Yet both novelties were witnessed at […]