Music Department Hosts Conductors' Workshop

Master teacher Leonid Korchmar at the Conductors' Workshop.
Master teacher Leonid Korchmar at the Conductors' Workshop.
The Hamilton College Music Department hosted several esteemed musicians and conductors last week as part of a workshop that Heather Buchman, associate professor of music and director of the College Orchestra, instituted last year.

The project was two-fold: Marianne Ploger, senior artist-teacher of musicianship at the Blair School of Music of Vanderbilt University, was in residence throughout the course of the week to discuss her experiences and musical strategies with Hamilton and ensembles.  In addition, Russian conductors Leonid Korchmar of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg and Oleg Proskurnya, director of the Beloit College Orchestra in Wisconsin, worked with the Hamilton College Orchestra in a weekend workshop designed to help conducting students from across the globe receive criticism and better their skills.

Ploger is a former student of the 20th century teacher of composition Nadia Boulanger, who had an astounding presence in the world of American musical culture. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct major American symphony orchestras and was the guiding light for many important American composers, most notably Aaron Copland. Ploger retained much of what Boulanger taught her and shared this with Orchestra, Brass Ensemble, and Buchman’s 20th century music history class. Among the topics Ploger discussed with were sight-singing, musical memory, rhythmic subdivision, and chord analysis. She also expressed a desire for students to become more aware of what lies beyond their individual parts in a piece of music.

Korchmar and Proskurnya, both former students of 20th century Russian teacher of conducting Ilya Musin, observed Buchman and two workshop participants from Knoxville, Tenn., and Melbourne, Australia, as they conducted pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Copland. As virtuosos in conducting technique, they helped develop in the participants a specific style that they find most effective in inciting a highly musical response from performers. Students in Orchestra were able to listen to what Korchmar and Prosckurnya had to say and apply it to their mode of thinking as well.
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