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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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Mapping My Musical Twitterverse

To be clear, I don’t know feel like people who use Twitter are supposed to use it in any specific way, but I am aware of scholarship that suggests online networks do not reliably lead to exploration and communication between groups that do not normally interact with each other offline. To this end, I’ve seen the following question posed a number of times in my feed, “how often to you actually listen to the music made by the people you follow?”

My self-consciousness on this subject made me ripe for the influence of another source, which contributed enormously to my decision: Howard S. Becker’s tremendous book Art Worlds. Becker, a sociologist and jazz pianist, investigates the networks of intra-group activity that contribute to the production, distribution and evaluation of works of art. Becker proposes an understanding of aesthetics, which was very new to me and the way my education has portrayed this concept: aesthetics result from collective activity. Intrigued by the idea that aesthetics happen instead of disseminate from the persuasively communicated ideals, I began to wonder how I could put Becker’s view to the test with myself and my peer composers…..

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Grade 5 – Discovering Beethoven and His Works (Part 1)

I wish I could hear Beethoven for the very first time again.


This week I’m breaking off a little from routine to teach my students about a classical composer that they should know. I started off showing them a video that explains briefly about the life of Beethoven. As we go along watching the video, I prompt the students about what the narrator said in the video. They were really attentive as they could answer my questions. I also had a short discussion about Beethoven as a person. I told them that knowing these information will be useful perform the activities that I have prepared for them.

After showing the video, I taught them to sing Ode to Joy with very interesting lyrics in it.

I liked the lyrics that was created with this famous Symphony No.9. Usually people only can sing the song by humming or using nonsense syllables (like ‘la’) to present the song but this lyric arrangement really…

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