Jordan Randall Smith Named Baltimore Social Innovation Fellow

The Peabody Post

jordan-randall-smithDMA conducting student Jordan Randall Smith, who serves as Symphony Number One’s music director, was named one of 10 Baltimore Social Innovation Fellows by the Warnock Foundation. Symphony Number One was recognized for its work to promote social good through music and serve all of Baltimore. With the added funding and support from the foundation, Symphony Number One will be giving free concerts across West Baltimore in February and March 2017.

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New Gifts of New Music

Thanks for the thoughtful review, Doug!


If you are anything like me, your December may have been a rather hectic affair, perhaps filled with concerts, gatherings, or grading (or taking) final exams. As the days of seasonal gift-giving hurtle frighteningly closer (or further behind, if we are celebrating Hanukkah), the reasonable question has likely occurred to you:

What should I get the music lover in my life who is a fan of both traditional repertory and performance practice, as well as cutting-edge new music?

Though frequently ignored by some of the major marketing chains at Yuletide (where was the 16th-Century Choral Repertoire float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? The dancing Morton Feldmans presenting their famous choreographed Visual Score Kickline at the Radio City Holiday Spectacular? The John Luther Adams Alaskan Survival Kit and Adventure Pack, complete with a compass and this thing that tells time?), this demographic is one deserving of attention. And…

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Symphony Number One Accepted to Light City Festival, Releases Debut Album

Thanks again, Peabody.

The Peabody Post

unnamed-15Symphony Number One released its debut album worldwide today, November 13. The album features recordings from the chamber orchestra’s debut concert in May 2015, including Fauré’s Pavane, Mozart’s Harp and Flute Concerto, and the world premiere recording of Mark Fromm’s Symphony No. 1. Soloists include master’s student Jordan Thomas (BM ’13, Harp) and Raoul Cho (BM ’11, MM ’12, Flute), who are featured both on the Mozart concerto and in a special version of the Fauré Pavane arranged by director and DMA conducting student Jordan Randall Smith in light of the unrest in Baltimore. Hanul Park (BM ’15, Bassoon) is featured prominently on Fromm’s symphony. Symphony Number One will perform as part of Light City Balitmore, the first large-scale, international light festival in the United States. The chamber orchestra will present “Light Cathedral: Boulez, Russel” featuring Boulez’s Dérive 2 and the world premiere of Jonathan Russell’s Light Cathedral

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Symphony Number One Season-Opener Reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

The Peabody Post

unnamed-5Symphony Number One, led by DMA conducting student Jordan Randall Smith, was featured by The Baltimore Sun in a review of the orchestra’s season-opening program at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland on September 24 and 27. Senior music education and saxophone student Sean Meyers, student of Gary Louie, premiered the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra by Andrew Boss (MM ’13, Composition) alongside Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soloist Amanda Williams (MM ’14, GPD ’15, Voice), soprano. “From the lush opening chord and the questioning response it generates from the saxophone, the music pulls you in gently,” wrote music critic Tim Smith of Mr. Boss’s saxophone concerto. “Saxophonist Sean Meyers offered technical aplomb and keen expressive nuance throughout.” Ms. Williams “sang with consistent sweetness of tone and clarity of articulation, bringing the text to life endearingly.” Read the full review here.

Symphony Number One will perform works…

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Anton Webern

burning ambulance

Anton Webern was born December 3, 1883. Had he lived, today would have been his 129th birthday. (That’s a joke, obviously, but Webern did in fact die before his time—he was shot by an American soldier on September 15, 1945, while standing outside his house having a smoke.)

Webern studied under Arnold Schoenberg, and formed an important friendship with fellow student Alban Berg (composer of the opera Wozzeck). But unlike either of those men, whose pieces were frequently grand in scale, he (in the words of Alex Ross in The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century) “found his calling as a miniaturist.” Webern composed extremely short, compressed pieces that—despite employing atonality, serialism and other theoretically rigorous strategies that can sound alienating to the listener in search of conventional melody and harmony—are extremely beautiful for all their alien spareness. Ross again: “The impulse to go to…

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Search the Liber usualis


Liber usualis

The Liber usualis is a valuable resource for musical scholars; as a compendium of the most common chants used by the Catholic Church, it is particularly useful for identifying the origins of chants used in polyphonic compositions.

Using Optical Music Recognition and Optical Text Recognition, Search the Liber usualis presents a scanned, searchable version of this important resource. Published by the Distributed Digital Music Archives & Libraries Lab and sponsored by the Single Interface for Music Score Searching and Analysis  (SIMSSA), this is a proof-of-concept demonstration for the larger task of providing search capabilities for all digitized musical works.

Below, a Palm Sunday antiphon with scrolling notation.

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My Pretend Music School

Ivan Trevino

I’m not employed by a university. I perform and compose music. That’s my job. So it’s easier for me to speak out in an unfiltered way about music schools, their curriculum, and why I think it should be different. No one can fire me for speaking my mind, so I’m going to let it fly. Here it goes:
“That’s how we’ve always done it.”
“We can’t lose who we are as an institution.”
“We have expectations that we need to meet.”
These are all answers I’ve heard from real life music school deans and professors when asked why music schools haven’t evolved. They always get a little uncomfortable when I ask questions like, “Why is the curriculum the same today as it was 50 years ago?” “Shouldn’t we evolve with the changing culture around us?” “Why is the orchestral repertoire so highly studied while the popular music genre is completely…

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Don’t be the idiot who applies for this job

All the conducting masterclasses

Symphony musicians upset about conductor’s ouster

Response: Change was needed

By Richard Freedman @RichFreedmanVTH on Twitter

POSTED:   08/19/2014 04:54:29 PM PDT


Click photo to enlarge
David Ramadanoff (courtesy photo)

Vallejo Symphony musician Kathleen Comalli Dillon blasted the orchestra’s board of directors in a seething letter Tuesday, on the heels of conductor David Ramadanoff’s pending ouster.

Ramadanoff’s 33rd year — starting with one of three seasonal concerts Sept. 21 — will be his last after the board decided it wanted to head in a different direction.

“I won’t play in the Vallejo Symphony without David’s brilliant and selfless leadership and talent,” Dillon said. “I will leave and so will many, if not most, of the fine players.”

According to board president Suzie Peterson, changes with the symphony were made based on three surveys. Dillon wondered in her letter why the VSO wasn’t informed of…

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The Fundamental Concept

As I’ve been reading and researching the background for my concept of Performance Design, I’ve been asked about the work frequently. This has prompted me to make sure to streamline the concept and make it possible to concisely explain it. In that spirit, here is a short set of bullets to attempt to clarify the idea.

  • It can be boiled down to a simple prescription for a change in mentality: 
    • A performer does not perform. A performer creates performances.
  • It follows that a performance is a created object (be it sound, visual, theatric, or some hybrid).
    • That act of creation can be broken down into three parts:
      • Design
      • Preparation
      • Execution
  • Performance Execution is the actual public act before an audience, what the public colloquially just calls the performance.
  • Performance Preparation
    • Practice
    • Rehearsal
  • Performance Design
    • I want to talk about  how to structure ones thinking around every other aspect prior to the concert.
  • The working glossary entry is “Performance Design: An interdiscipline which examines and prescribes the tools and methods for the construction of a public aesthetic performance. Includes those tools under the traditional rubric of “interpretation” (examining manuscripts, historical studies, structural analysis) but also includes music perception fields (music cognition, information theory and neuroscience), programming, venue selection, and marketing.”

And I would boil it all down to the idea that a performer in 2014 is equipped with advanced technical training in their instrument or voice (or dance or theater) but generally lacks the tools to holistically design a performance. 

It’s kind of like the Apple philosophy: I want to equip performers to design the “whole widget”. 

Please let me know what you think

Choral Report

Domestic Bliss: The Empty Nest

Today, our parish choir had a shortened rehearsal and so sang one familiar piece and one that we had rehearsed for a couple of Sundays previously.

During the offertory, we sang O God, Thou Art My God by Purcell, which involved two semi-choirs for some of it. Here is a video of the Clare College of Cambridge. The final Hallelujah is a well-known hymn tune.

During Communion, we sang The Call by Ralph Vaughn Williams, a piece that is in our repertoire and that we can call up on short notice when rehearsal time is short. Here is a performance by The Choristers of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the City of London Sinfonia.

Finally, Michael and I are looking forward to working with Rob Teehan on Tuesday evening on a recording of the final work of his Canadian Film Centre residency. Rob was Michael’s tuba teacher for a couple of years and…

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