North Texas Daily

Symphony Orchestra concert and book release Friday

Symphony Orchestra concert and book release Friday

September 23
22:22 2014

Josh Perry / Contributing Writer

Director of Orchestral Studies David Itkin will release his new book, “Conducting Concerti: A Technical and Interpretive Guide”, Sept. 26 alongside the upcoming UNT Symphony Orchestra performance of Alberto Ginastera’s “Harp Concerto Op. 25,” as well as conduct the concert.

There will be a meet and greet with Itkin before the concert, where attendees can talk with him and look through the book.

“I realized when I left school, when I was done being a graduate student, and I went out to my first job, how little time – virtually no time – we spent discussing how to conduct a concerto,” Itkin said. “I talked to a number of other conductors and publishers and realized there was nothing out there like this.”

Itkin has served as the Director of Orchestral Studies and as a music professor for the university for seven years. His career has led him through 45 states and 15 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Itkin started writing the book about three years ago. After a small hiatus, he picked it up again and turned it into what he felt was a finished copy. On the day he finished the book, his computer and thumbdrive were both stolen.

“My daughter will never forget the moment that I realized that I had left my computer in a restaurant 200 miles away,” Ikin said. “I was absolutely crushed. I didn’t have the heart to think about starting over.

Through the diligent work of the Texarkana Police Department, and a bit of good luck, Itkin said, he got his computer back. However, his hard drive had been wiped and layered with garbage data, including tens of thousands of architectural drawings.

“It’s like if someone stripped the hardwood out of your house and then poured concrete all over your living room,” Itkin said.

With help from a professional who reconstructs hard drives, and two weeks of time, he managed to recover the final draft of the book, along with 80 percent of the files on his computer. The book was published in August and is already being read by Itkin’s students.

“Seeing them read it and absorb it and come out differently, that’s very rewarding,” Itkin said.

After the meet and greet, Itkin will conduct the UNT Symphony Orchestra in their performance of the “Harp Concerto Op. 25.” Senior Lecturer of Harp and Director of Undergraduate Studies Jaymee Haefner, who joined rehearsals Sept. 15, will play the harp solo.

“This is a piece that I’ve loved for a long time,” Haefner said. “When professor Itkin came to me I jumped at the chance.”

Some harpists do not like to play this piece because the harp is used almost like a percussion instrument, Itkin said. The soloist has to have a personality to fit the piece.

“It’s not the most difficult concerto, but what’s challenging is that it’s very physically demanding,” Haefner said. “It beats you up. I have calluses and bruises on my hands from the type of playing that is required.”

College of Music concerts like this one are scheduled about two years ahead of time while the repertoire is chosen at a later date, said Megan Heber, Murichson Performing Arts Center event coordinator. She coordinates about 120 events every year and each one is special.

“I’m very excited about the performance itself, especially because of the programming,” Heber said. “I’m not very familiar with the harp concerto but I have heard Jaymee Haefner rehearsing with the orchestra and the snippets I have heard sound wonderful; she is a true virtuoso.”

Heber is also excited for patrons to see the harp display the night of the performance. A very generous donor made it available for the concert.

The upcoming performance is the first project Haefner and Itkin have worked on together.

“One of the tricky things about being a conductor is that you have to be direct and have a sense of humor,” Haefner said. “He does a great job. I think this will be the first of many collaborations.”

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