CU professor’s book is for musicians, administrators, patrons and board members

Jeffrey Nytch: The Entrepreneurial Muse

By Peter Alexander Jan. 4 at 4:20 p.m.

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Jeffrey Nytch

Jeffrey Nytch is a composer, an associate professor at the CU College of Music, director of the CU Entrepreneurship Center for Music, author of a text book—and sometimes a translator.

What he translates is the language of business. He translates it into language that anyone can easily grasp, and he does it through teaching as well as through his recently published book, The Entrepreneurial Muse: Inspiring Your Career in Classical Music.

“I feel like I’m a translator taking concepts that are well established in business but foreign to people in the arts,” he says. “It’s being able to say, let’s take ‘opportunity recognition.’ Let me explain to you what that means—translate it such that it demystifies it and helps the artist see that it is relevant to what they do.”

Written as a text book for classes such as “Building Your Music Career,” one of the courses he teaches through the College of Music, The Entrepreneurial Muse also aims at a larger audience. “It’s something that we talked a lot about in the conceptual stage of the book,” he says. “Oxford University Press is an academic press. They know how to market to educational institutions, so it’s been a little bit tricky in that regard.”

Nevertheless, he says, “I do think of a broader readership. I tried to write it in a conversational way, [with] the personal stories that are woven into it. Yes it’s a text book, but I wanted it to be a good read too.”

nytch.museMaking it “a good read” starts at the very beginning, with a personal experience we can all understand, what Nytch calls “The Popcorn Epiphany” (Prologue, p. xv; but you’ll have to read it for yourself). Those kinds of informal, accessible anecdotes can be found throughout the book.

Of course, it necessarily reads like a textbook in some chapters. Nytch is careful to lay the groundwork, explain the concepts, define the terms—in other words, translate the business language for his audience of musicians and music administrators.

One thing that makes the book understandable is that lot of what Nytch describes—concepts like latent and inchoate demand, and long-tail markets—are things that musicians and audiences will intuitively recognize, even if they don’t know the vocabulary. And as you move into the book, it becomes more and more fascinating to anyone who is active in the world of music, as a performer, professional administrator, supporter or consumer. Insights abound.

Music entrepreneurship has emerged as an important field over the past 20–30 years. CU created the first entrepreneurship program in the arts in 1999, and Nytch came to CU as head of the program in 2009. “Now, [the field] has really started to take off,” he says.

“In the last 20 years the numbers of [music students] have continued to grow and there are no longer the jobs for all of those students. Performing arts schools in general and music schools in particular began to recognize that we need to prepare our graduates for professional lives beyond just preparing them to be performers.”

Nytch himself came into the field of music entrepreneurship almost accidentally. Before taking the job at CU he had received a doctorate in composition, managed the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and co-founded a non-profit service organization. As he explains it, “I did not recognize that I was laying the groundwork for this new career. I was just trying to figure out how to keep music in my life and make a living.”

ecmmusicThen in 2008 he heard about the job opening at CU. “I’m reading the job description,” he recalls. “I’ve got a DMA in music, I have 15 years as a freelance composer, I’d run a small arts organization and my day job for six years was being the operations director for a small business. Basically, I checked every box that they were looking for. I read that job description, and I knew it was for me.”

The textbook emerged from his experience teaching entrepreneurship. “The educators, my colleagues in the arts entrepreneurship field, need resources for their own teaching,” Nytch says. In addition, “there are music students, there are individual musicians who are out in the world, especially folks that are in the earlier stages of their career.

“Entrepreneurship is also useful for traditional art management programs. A lot of arts organizations, symphony orchestras and opera companies and chamber music societies, they could benefit from learning to think entrepreneurially as well.”

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Jeffrey Nytch teaching at the Entrepreneurship Center for Music

One part of the music world in particular gets Nytch’s attention: the amateurs who support professional organizations, as patrons or contributors or board embers. “Those folks are invested in the future of their organizations, but they may not have the mechanism to think about options in a strategic way.

“A lot of boards end up doing what I call shucking peanuts. They say ‘We ought to do this,’ and ‘Actually, we ought to do this,’ or ‘Maybe we could try this.’ You go around the table and you spend two hours shucking peanuts. Some of those might be good ideas, some of them might be terrible ideas. But if there’s no way to evaluate them, then you’re never going to get any further than shucking peanuts. So thereis an audience who would find [the book] useful.”

In other words: If you are a musician in the early stages of your career, you should read this book; if you know a musician, buy it for them. If you are an arts administrator, you should read this book; if you know an arts administrator, buy it for them. If you are a board member of an arts organization, you should read this book; if you know a board member, buy it for them.

More concisely, I recommend this unique and valuable book to anyone who makes, supports or listens to music. It fills a unique and important space in the music world, and it does it extremely well.

The Entrepreneurial Muse: Inspiring Your Career in Classical Music by Jeffrey Nytch. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 240 pages. ISBN: 9780190630980 $24.99 (paperback; also available in hardback and E-book formats)

Can also be purchased from Amazon.

Edited 1/5/19 to update top photo of Jeffrey Nytch.

 

 

 

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Dusinberre, Katsarelis and Pro Musica premiere concerto by Jeffrey Nytch

Powerfully expressive work, written from the heart, reaching out to hearts

By Peter Alexander April 15 at 12:15 a.m.

A remarkable new work by Jeffrey Nytch, the Violin Concerto: Costa Concordia, has been brought to Colorado audiences by the Colorado Pro Music Chamber Orchestra, conductor Cynthia Katsarelis and violinist Edward Dusinberre.

The official premiere was Friday (April 13) in Denver, with a second performance, which I attended, last night in Boulder (April 14). Both performance and work were assured, polished, and deeply moving.

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Composer Jeffrey Nytch. Courtesy CU photo archive.

Nytch is an associate professor of composition and director of the Entrepreneurship Center for Music at the CU College of Music. He was inspired to write the concerto by the fate of the Hungarian violinist Sandor Feher, who died when the cruise ship Costa Concordia sank in 2012. When the ship collided with the rocky shore, Feher first assisted other passengers, including children, and then went to retrieve his violin. He never came back.

“I heard this story and felt that I had to respond to it in a musical way,” Nytch has said. What he chose to do was to tell the story of the violin, not the violinist. This is a highly original creative decision, one that led Nytch away from the events of Feher’s story, toward the moods the story passes through. The concerto is thus more universal, and more deeply moving.

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Sandor Feher

Looked at in another way, the concerto is programmatic, but not in the usual sense. That is, it does not have a program of events, with music representing the collision or Feher’s descent back into the ship. Instead it has an emotional program, portraying in turn the jollity of the fiddle and its player in good times, the loneliness of their separation, and finally a vision of their reunion in another realm.

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The Costa Concordia sinking (2012)

The result is a powerfully expressive work, because Nytch found effective musical means to convey each step of this emotional journey. And that emotional program, written from the composer’s heart, pulls the listeners in and reaches out to their hearts.

The concerto starts with a deep and foreboding prologue, with a ”churning,” the section title tells us, that could be the ship’s propellers swirling beneath the waves. This is followed by an impassioned cadenza that dramatically invokes the unity of player and instrument. Here Dusinberre became the ideal interpreter, playing with intensity and technical brilliance.

The next section of the work, titled “Dancing, lighthearted,” has hints of Eastern European rhythms and dances that Feher might have played, but without sounding like quotes of folk music or specific Gypsy tunes. The lighter mood gives away to ever more frantic fiddling until a furious climax is reached.

Ed Dusinberre Takacs Quartet Publicity Photo

Edward Dusinberre. Courtesy CU photo archive.

The remainder of the concerto contains the most arresting and original music of the piece. First there is a lengthy passage of utter emptiness, suggesting loneliness yet without despair. Borrowing from Dusinberre’s description, “there’s an extraordinary disembodied quality to it, (as if) the violinist ceases to be there, (leaving only) the sound of the instrument.”

Slow moving, tonal chords used to represent a sweet, consoling ending is one of the most obvious clichés of Western music, and yet Nytch makes them fresh and effective. The sheer beauty of the final section feels like the inevitable outcome of the concerto’s emotional journey. This, I thought, is the story that Nytch had to tell: not the specifics of Feher’s heroism and sacrifice, but a universal yearning for transcendence.

Dusinberre, more often heard as first violinist of the Takacs Quartet, was an inspired interpreter of the concerto. He had mastered the concerto’s many technical demands, playing with a consistency and beauty of tone. He easily soared above the texture, in spite of the sometimes urgent activity of the orchestra. Based on this riveting performance, I would like to hear him more often as a concerto soloist, if only his other far-flung commitments would allow it.

Photography by Glenn Ross. http://on.fb.me/16KNsgK

Cynthia Katsarelis. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Katsarelis and the players of Pro Musica gave solid and committed support, ideally matching the composer’s moods. Before Costa Concordia, they gave an assured and well prepared performance of Bartók’s Divertimento for String Orchestra. Throughout, the different episodes from which the score is constructed were well characterized, all of the changes of mood clearly delineated.

They did not hold back for the more bumptious sections or the most piercing climaxes, which were well contrasted with moments of near silence. The Divertimento represented a satisfying performance of a piece that Katsarelis and the players obviously enjoy. Sometimes, that’s just what you want.

Pro Musica’s ‘Heart of Hungary’ puts the spotlight on a world premiere

New Violin Concerto by Jeff Nytch will feature Edward Dusinberre as soloist

By Peter Alexander April 13 at 5:20 p.m.

Some stories just have to be told.

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Jeff Nytch. Courtesy of CU Photo Archive.

That is what composer Jeffrey Nytch thought when he heard about Sandor Feher, a violinist on the cruise ship Costa Concordia who died going back to retrieve his violin when the ship sank off the coast of Italy in 2012. “I heard this story and I was just incredibly moved by it,” Nytch says. “I felt that I had to respond to it in a musical way.”

The world premiere Nytch’s musical response, his Violin Concerto: Costa Concordia, will be presented by violinist Edward Dusinberre with the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra and conductor Cynthia Katsarelis. Performances will be Friday (April 13) in Cherry Hills Village and Saturday (April 14) in Boulder.

Pro Musica will also perform Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings both nights.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor
With Edward Dusinberre, violin

Jeffrey Nytch: Violin Concerto:Costa Concordia(World Premiere)
Béla Bartók: Divertimento for String Orchestra

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13
Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Avenue,Cherry Hills Village
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14
Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place, Boulder

Tickets