Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev

Discover Your Symphony with Dan Allcott

September 25, 2023 Morgan Franklin Media Season 3 Episode 18
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
Discover Your Symphony with Dan Allcott
Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Dan Allcott, Professor of Music at Tennessee Tech and Music Director of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra.

This episode is a celebration of Dan's career as a musician, orchestral director, conductor and educator as well as a celebration for the 60th Season of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra.

Bryan Symphony Orchestra features faculty and student performers from the School of Music, performing alongside area professionals.  The Orchestra is supported by a collaboration between the Bryan Symphony Orchestra Association and Tennessee Technological University. 

Find out more about Bryan Symphony Orchestra:
https://www.bryansymphony.org/

Find out more about Dan Allcott:
https://www.danallcott.com/

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

This episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is made possible by our partners at Aspire Barber and Beauty Academy. 

Find out more about Aspire Barber and Beauty Academy:
https://aspirebarberandbeauty.com/ 

Kosta Yepifantsev:

When I started college I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Maybe that’s why it took me 14 years to graduate. Getting an education is what you make it and that’s a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. Today’s episode is presented by our partners at Aspire Barber and Beauty Academy, an Aveda Concept School providing a one-of-a-kind education experience to aspiring barbers and beauty professionals. With over 52 years of real-world experience, Aspire instructors are equipped with the hands-on knowledge to help you become the stylist you’re meant to be.

Dan Allcott:

You get to a certain level and you're the best at that level. And the only way to get better is to make some kind of change that allows you to improve more, and change is hard.

Morgan Franklin:

Welcome to Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev, a podcast on parenting business and living life intentionally. We're here every week to bring you thoughtful conversation, making your own path to success, challenging the status quo, and finding all the ways we're better together. Here's your host, Kosta Yepifantsev.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey y'all, it's Kosta. Today I'm here with my guest, Dan Allcott, professor of music at Tennessee Tech and music director of the Oak Ridge symphony, Bryan symphony orchestra, and Tennessee Philharmonic. First of all, congratulations to you and the entire Bryan Symphony Orchestra, as this year marks the celebration of your 60th season. Would you give us some background on how the orchestra started and how it's evolved to the orchestra we have today?

Dan Allcott:

Well, that's a interesting story. And one of the benefits of me arriving about 20 years ago in Cookeville, was there are still a lot of people who were involved with the founding of the orchestra. And now there are just a few left who I get to talk to. But really the story that was told to me was that there were so many people who moved here from a way to be faculty members. And at that time, a lot of the faculty hires were men, and their wives came with them. And some of them said, we're going where? Right, so they arrived in Cookeville. And they got together on many fronts and thought, how can we make this community even better? What can we do to make this place special? And also, how can we complete this as a metropolitan or micropolitan community and they they wanted to bring some things that they were used to. And there's a long tradition of music at Tennessee Tech anyway, the man for whom our symphony is named and hold the Brian fine art centers named Charles Faulkner. Brian was a composer from McMinnville, Tennessee. And he was a teacher early on at Tennessee Tech. So there had been that footprint already there. The Derryberry family was very supportive of music, Everett Derryberry and his wife and then Walter Derryberry, Everett's son, Dr. Derryberry, and his wife. And so this generation of people got together to say, what can we do to help the music department and let's do something really big. Sure. And so they decided to have found what was then kind of a town gown orchestra, which was, you know, partly music faculty, students, and they were hiring people right away from Nashville Symphony or whatever, to complement the orchestra. And at that point, it was a pretty good gig if you could get a teaching gig in Tennessee, at Tennessee Tech paid more than the Nashville Symphony job. Yeah. When I got there, there were still a couple of faculty members were like, used to play in the Nashville Symphony. And then they became full time over here, because you know, so Nashville Symphony has since grown into a more full time orchestra, of course, but anyway, it was these, the women, there was a guild that they formed, and they decided to make this work and they push this idea. Jim Weinberger was the chair of the music department. And he was the first conductor. And, you know, they just kind of moved forward early on they they had education initiatives, and some of those came and went. And so when I came here, you know, I kind of learned what the orchestra had done, kind of saw where we were at that point. And then, you know, in 20 years, you kind of get to make your own imprint. But the first thing I did was look at what was the imprint that was left for me, what was the legacy? And where can I move forward with the board and the community?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Well, and give us a little bit of background. So when you got here 20 years ago, it was the early 2000s. Were you guys in the same building? Were you the same size as you are now? What was it like back then relative to now 20

Dan Allcott:

years ago, we were in the same building? The Brian Fine Arts Center is I think 40 Some years old or and the building is a great building. We're lucky that we have that building, the building you are in when you have a teaching job or in an orchestra job. makes a huge difference. And we have a wonderful concert hall, which is getting a facelift next year. And that makes a big difference nice studios to teach in the building is not as modern in some ways as we'd like it would keep, you know, trying to upgrade things and this and that we need more technology. But we are lucky to have a wonderful building and a wonderful place on campus. You know, we kind of own that last end of campus. And the nice thing about us being in that place is we hope that the community feels not everybody in the community always feels like they can just easily get onto campus. And, you know, do we have to pay for parking and the word there on the end of campus, on the weekends, the parking is free people can come in, and it's an accessible place. So yeah, other than continuing cosmetic changes. Now, when I got here, of course, I was one of the young faculty members. And now there are a couple, three of us that have you know, are holding the fort for the older generation. But that's also a wonderful thing about being at a university, that influx of energy from new young faculty members, we just we had a busy year of searches last year, we've been able to maintain through even some tough budget cuts, we've been able to maintain the size of our faculty, which is really important because, you know, if you have a school of music in Nashville, sometimes some of those schools, I won't name any names will have a smaller full time faculty because they can just get somebody to come in one day a week and teach this instrument or that instrument, our faculty are really, really invested as a whole, we have many full time faculty and a few adjuncts as well. But that way, the students see that that we're all working together. And also as a college environment. You know, I have friends who are teachers at universities who don't have kind of I have always had kind of a foot in both worlds of professional work and university work. And at a university you can get easily like cordoned off into your space and defend your space and not but we all perform together so much that I think things can never really get that nasty at a faculty meeting. Because right when you leave, you're gonna go into a rehearsal with somebody that you know, you might have been voting

Kosta Yepifantsev:

in with what's really interesting about our show better together as we have interviewed, like so many people that are associated that are not just musicians, but are associated to the school of music or the Bryan symphony orchestra, and then also the Dean of the College of Music. It's the College of Fine Arts College of Fine Arts is tell me Jennifer Shannon, Jennifer, that's it. Yeah. And we did the great TV auction together. Oh, yeah. Hosted so and I just remember, like, I'm thinking to myself as I'm interviewing you, and I interviewed Andrew Buckner, and just a handful, but Rachel Rachel,

Dan Allcott:

Mark Kramer. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And so like, Rachel was my cello student. Really? Yeah. I've known her since she was 15. Have

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you been to her bar? Yeah. Yeah. Super cool. Yeah. She's done an amazing job. But anyway, it's just, it's always fascinating to me, because it's like you said, you wouldn't expect to have an orchestra in Cookeville. But the background? I mean, it obviously makes sense. It's an intentionality. Yeah, there was

Dan Allcott:

a very as are many things. I think, if you look at that, you look at the television station, and you look at the hospital. Yes. You know, those were decisions that people made a long time ago, like, are we just going to farm everything out to somewhere else? Or are we gonna maintain, and that's what makes us on micropolitan, a real micropolitan community. You know, I'm always saying people will travel to Nashville, sometimes for this surgery, or they'll go see a Nashville Symphony, which is all fine. But for the rest of this five to eight County area, we are the center of commerce and medicine and culture in a way that we can be very impactful.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

How did you get into this? Like when you were a kid, you picked up your first instrument? Did you just immediately fall in love with it? How did you come to be who you are today?

Dan Allcott:

Well, I would put most of the responsibility on my mother. Okay, I had a great mother. And in fact, my mom moved here. She lived there for the last several years of her life, which was really awesome, because people had heard about her. And then she showed up and they're like, man, he's not kidding. And also, she would tell them, you know, that's Danny. I think I don't come from a family of musicians. I come from a family of logistical people. My father is an engineer with a MBA. My sister is a certified project manager has worked for IBM, eBay, you know, one of my brothers is a dean level Foreign Studies. Person who now works for startup that has some of his former students started working in international studies. My brother who's a trucker became the guy who hired all the other truckers and figured out where the trucks are. So we're all managers, and then you're the creative well, but I'm also that's why I'm a conductor. Even as a young person, frankly, I was ahead of my peers academically, even in elementary school. You know, I got in trouble because I was looking for some way to be the boss of whatever are. And there's a great school system where in fifth grade, everybody had the opportunity to choose an instrument. And I chose trumpet. And I showed up for a band that day. And Mr. dealio, the band director said, your mom called, you're playing cello come back tomorrow for orchestra. And so I came back the next day. And I had a wonderful orchestra teacher who was an old German musician, first generation from Milwaukee, he just kind of took me under his wing, and really immediately noticed that I was, you know, gifted in music and gifted in storytelling and using that energy for music. And they basically just kept trying to you know, they the cello was something that was not super easy for me to do. So it kept me focused in a way, I still had my you know, I, I always say, I got suspended for the first time in third grade. And then I started playing the cello. And I didn't get suspended again till I was 16. So you know that that's good. That became a focus for me, my best friends were in music, and I just connected those people, I started going away to summer camps for music. And I was really active in tennis up until I was about 15. And that was kind of when I had to make a decision a little bit. And there really wasn't anything else that I ever really wanted to do. And again, back to my mother, I'm pretty sure my parents probably had a conversation about my career choices. But I never heard that because I'm sure my mom shut that down right away.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, at least you weren't like wanting to be in a rock band and like live in a van or, like you were playing in an orchestra I was

Dan Allcott:

in I was, I was making money. I mean, I was in high school, I was subbing in professional orchestras and just making insane amount of money for a high school kid every once in a while. But there just wasn't, you know, I'm sure that my you know, they talked about it. And I'm sure my mom just said to my dad, you're not talking to him about his career choice. And so it just worked, you know, and I kept finding, you know, these people and influences. Also, I think there was so many people who are such positive influences on me, as leaders in music and conductors and cello teachers and stuff. And I just kept finding that energy, and also my peers that were really excelling. Not all of them who are in music now. But it really was clear to me that that was, this was a place where I felt the happiest. And I felt like I also had something to contribute that was unique. And, you know, I think if I had taught to my dad or somebody about like, what's your end game? You know, I didn't know what my end game was until I just wanted to pursue it to the furthest extent that I could. And I share that with my students. Now. Sometimes, you know, I talked to parents a lot whose children are considering majoring in music. And I tell them I said, first of all, you got to it's like an exorcism. For some kids. You got to just go in there. You got to get it done, because you got to see what you know. And there are so many careers that musicians can have. What are they? Oh, they're actually there's a it's funny. I have a friend who has a whole website that she runs and a group that she runs called orchestra careers, okay. And she was an oboe player. And now she's the manager of the wheeling West Virginia Symphony. She used to work in Nashville Symphony. She also found that she was really good about behind the scenes things or logistics, or support things. I know you interviewed my former student Rachel Smalling, Rachel figured out early on when she started going to music camp. She loved being the person who helped make the events happen. She went to Swanee summer music festival and eventually got on the staff there. Then she was part time staff for brands and eventually became my executive director for several years. And now you can't keep the entrepreneurial spirit out of her opening. She owns two hotels, and she's opening a speakeasy. It's amazing. This is the kind of I mean, you learn such important skills in music, and you also learn to work with people. You know, we are constantly working in compromise situations with others listening to others. I think they're just so many positive things. But there are a lot of careers in music that are, you know, not everybody's going to get a job in the Nashville Symphony or something like that. The teaching careers are actually I get calls every year do you have a string teacher that's graduating, I have another position here, you may have to move for it. But I've moved quite a bit from my work to maintain what I'm doing. So there are a lot of the happiest people I know. And musicians, they're so hard working. I mean, I'm now at the point in my career where I'm kind of slowing down a little bit to focus on my family more. And also my teaching career is kind of like the real main thing for me right now. But up until I was you know, 50 I mean, it was crazy. You were talking about my I've actually recently just left the Tennessee Philharmonic and the Oak Ridge symphony, because there were nights where I would have a concert and on Thursday night, a concert in Murfreesboro rehearsal on Friday in Oak Ridge, Saturday night concert in Oak Ridge and then Sunday morning rehearsal here on a Sunday afternoon concert that was feeding me in a certain way. But now my family situation has changed a little bit. We're not as comfortable being away that much and my my wife's working is more important now. And so now I'm more choosy. Yeah. But the opportunity to share so much music with so many people in one week was intoxicating.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can I ask you something that I just find absolutely fascinating. And it's a way to explain to all the people who are not gifted in playing any instrument, period, like at all, because as I'm reading your bio is talking to Morgan, you can pretty much play any instrument orchestral instrument, and you can teach it as well,

Dan Allcott:

you know what, I know how all of them work?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can you actually play it? Professionally,

Dan Allcott:

I can play several I can play but none of them I would not play anything but the cello in public,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

okay. But you can teach Oh, yes. And also part of what you know, I

Dan Allcott:

mean, I know a lot of people say, Oh, if you want to be the head of a company, you have to have done every job. That's not always the case. Or you don't always have that opportunity. I do know people who can play really, really well, multiple instruments. But I have always been even when I was a tennis player. When I was in middle school, I had a really good friend who was a super competitive player. And I was never, I didn't have that competitive drive or edge like he did. But he loves to play tennis with me, because I would talk to him about how tennis worked all the time, we were always talking about what now I refer to as technique. I ended up studying cello with one of the great teachers of the mid to late 20th century, who what is still revered for his technical facility, but also as an amazing teacher, somebody who could teach you how to do things, and he was very direct about what he thought of other people's teaching, you know, that people would, you know, try and make you do this and flowery, this, and he was very good about talking about the one thing that was holding you back the most at that point. And I think for me, I have that kind of also, because of my father, you know, problem solving with my dad, who was an engineer, we were always looking at the system. And so for me, the orchestra, in fact, the first time I saw an orchestra score, when I was about 14, I looked at this and it reminded me of a schematic that I looked at with my father. And I was just looking at it like, wow, look at all these I was I was entranced by the possibilities. And I started studying how does this work right away. And so that, for me, is a wonderful thing to be able to do. It's a skill that I've learned and honed, and also to be able to pass on to students who are going to be you know, directing ensembles, and this and that, but I actually really, really love that process of the imagination of the page, and then trying to bring that to life.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So there's something like going on in your brain, right? Yeah. Music picture. Yeah. So I mean, you're gifted with that. And that's what gives you the ability to be able to play multiple instruments because I mean, like I said, I can't even play one. So the fact that you can play multiple and you can teach most of them is it's fascinating to me, it's like I said, it's part of the brain that's just not on for me, right.

Dan Allcott:

It's a different skill set. But you know, I I know people who are I have friends who are super musically talented, like, in a way that I'm not, like, just digitally talented. But that has never been my talent. I've worked hard to become a really fine cellist. I'm not going to apologize about my cello playing. I worked super hard. I went through graduate school, I went all the way through the doctoral coursework and cello performance, so that I wouldn't be a conductor who couldn't play an instrument. There are conductors like that out there. I'm not gonna say that. I mean, I really, I mean, I conducted an orchestra the first time I was 16. My high school orchestra teacher, let me conduct the orchestra nice at a regional like orchestra contest. It's amazing now to think about letting somebody do that. But I always wanted to make sure that I had that proficiency. But I learned so much great music making from some of those instrumental teachers. They're the ones that taught me to listen and be able to talk to other people about their instrumental playing. Whether it be I can't play the oboe, but I'm certainly know how to get a woodwind section to breathe together or what my preference is. And so I'm not afraid to do that. Because I did that exorcism myself. I went the distance.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Well, on that note, something I think you've done quite skillfully throughout your career is utilize the power of collaboration with non traditional partners like new birth Missionary Baptist Church, choir and Indigo Girls during your time at the Atlanta Ballet and Cookeville master singers Stage One Dance Company and center stage at Bryan Symphony locally, what inspired you to push the boundaries for community involvement? Well,

Dan Allcott:

I think there's a long tradition of music directors in cities being culturally prominence and you know, depending on the city, if you go back to Johann Sebastian Bach was, you know, one of his jobs as general music director of you know, if you've got The biggest church job in town, everybody just expected that, you know, all their good music was going to flow from that place and right. And so I've always been the beneficiary of towns that valued music education, especially. So the thought of like just conducting concerts is never been enough. You know, and also depends on the size organization with, I think the smaller town you are in, the more important that is the Chicago Symphony doesn't have to collaborate with everybody in community. They are the big, you know, how right and deservedly so and they have another responsibility level, you know, that's different. They still do some collaboration. But I'll tell you, when I got my job at Atlanta Ballet, my mentor there, the artistic director was a man named John McFaul. And he was so brave. It was never a question of if something was too challenging, or whatever. And the great thing is, we would, we would dream up these collaborations, some of which took place some of them which didn't, but like the new birth Missionary Baptist church choir, we were collaborating with their 200 voice, gospel choir, and an eight piece gospel ensemble, that weren't used to dancers who count eight everything, you know, yeah. And like, when we're done dancing, the music is over. And you know, that, like, they had a very fluid way of learning things, because they learned everything by rote from their, their awesome music. And he was a Grammy winning record producer, gospel music producer, Kevin bond, I mean, just the fact that I got to work with him now. Um, every once awhile, I find somebody who knows who Kevin was no, like, really? I said, Yeah, we did a ballet together. That was a huge collaboration at that time, that was a 20,000 member church, and just very interesting, but we were trying to bring two very different that's an African American church with the Gospel Choir, we were trying to bring them together with Atlanta Ballet, and, you know, join hands in something. And so that was wonderful. I saw that when we were working with Indigo Girls. That was a long process where we didn't talk to Indigo Girls for a long time. You know, we were talking to their manager and this and that, and then I happen to go to church with Amy raise dab. And then Emily sailors actually lived in my neighborhood a little bit, okay, after a while, you know, it's like, it just felt a little, there's a little bit of comfort there. Because we were all in Atlanta. And eventually, when we are all get together, that was just a wonderful collaboration. But they were also like, we want to make sure we're, I mean, are we doing the right amount of measures and, and we want to do the right tempo, they were like so musically keyed into the dancers. And we actually had them on stage with the dancers, and then the orchestra in the pit. And we wrote orchestra charts for the, you know, Indigo Girls tunes. And so just that dreaming thing, and John was so good, my mentor, my boss, about taking a project all the way don't let money, don't let the nose happen first, let's not back down on the dreaming until it's just like, okay, because first of all, sometimes the money came through. You know, I mean, just imagine, like the, the daunting process of trying to calendar with Indigo Girls.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, how expensive is it to produce a show like that?

Dan Allcott:

Well, first of all, it's, you know, in a house, like we did that at the Fox Theater, okay, you know, which is a 3500 seat, you know, theory. And you know, that organization, Atlanta Ballet was running on about a $6 million annual budget at that time. And so, you know, the thing I learned was these big collaborations had serious financial risk. But he was so brave. And like I said, we would go all the way until we had to back out, we had the rights from the Margaret Mitchell estate to set a ballet on Gone With the Wind, oh, exclusive rights for the longest time. And we banged our heads against that project for the entire 10 years that I was there and it never happened. I mean, it would have been a hit. It would have been but also it was it became a cultural time where that would have it was there was too difficult to see because we couldn't glorify parts of the story right? In Atlanta, especially this is a you know, this Atlanta as a very strong community, which we we really enjoyed. There was a lot of collaborations across color lines.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

It's one of the least and most segregated right communities in so many different aspects. Well, no one will understand, right?

Dan Allcott:

Because you've lived there, and you know, that there are parallel organizations, dance organizations and theatre organizations and they drive right they both thrive but also when you're planning your you know, like, you know, Atlanta Symphony is like, well, a city of this size, could have an orchestra, this budget, well, everything's a little bit divided that right and then there are these great collaborations that come across there. So I learned to dream so when I came here, I like I produced a semi staged opera my first year that I was here and and then I got hired. I was principal guest conductor for Asheville Lyric Opera for several years. And so I would get hired to produce an opera over there and conduct and then I'd bring the whole cast over here, and then we crammed the set on the stage. and the singers would say, oh my god, your orchestra is so good here. So they were glad they're keep this, you know, collaboration Do you

Kosta Yepifantsev:

have a dream like collab that you would love to have Brian Symphony Orchestra?

Dan Allcott:

You know, it's so funny. I've checked so many, like bucket list items off. I've done so many things that I wouldn't have dreamed of. I mean, one of the things that we did recently was and this was really Rachel, Smalling just pushing me because she loved she's, you know, experienced several operatic productions while I was here, and after Asheville Lyric Opera, and I were no longer collaborating, you know, she's like, What are we doing? And I was like, amen. So she just drove me to we self produced an opera Lebo M, which is one of the most famous operas and we kind of set the whole scene on the west side, in Cookeville, where, you know, we knew many artists who were living in Garrett apartments, and this and that another thing, and the whole thing had that kind of look, there was like a Ralph's doughnut box on stage and the artists, apartment stuff. So you know, we keep doing those things. Yeah, I think the other thing, that's the obvious one is that, you know, Cookeville is a rich town for dance education. I mean, we couldn't believe it when we got here. And there's, you know, you can take dance at the high school, you can take AP dance, I think, or whatever, you know, my reaching out to stage one and to Jennifer crater to work with them. And we've had several valleys where we've had ballet dancers on stage with us in our orchestra and stuff. So anyway, yeah, it's been that's been really exciting. And we're doing another collaboration with them, as well. But what I like to do is find people who have strengths and connections to the community and work with them, and then we're all richer for it. And I did the same thing in Oak Ridge, you know, with a children's show choir over there, we were able to do some very important things. And we had a choir over there. So yeah, we're stronger for them. Collaborations all take their pound of flesh, you know, you'd have two groups with different goals, you know, especially if there's box office involved that that's challenging, but our costs are always the highest in a collaboration because we have, you know, orchestra that's a professional orchestra, and we're paying a lot of those musicians. So

Kosta Yepifantsev:

the moral of the story is, stay tuned, because it seems like Dan may be thinking of something new. Now, I

Dan Allcott:

definitely gotta, I actually do have some big plans for like, the one thing if I was saying, like, kind of a big thing that I'll do before I retire, whatever my favorite composer is, Franz Schubert. And 2028 will be the 200th anniversary of his untimely death. He was 31. But he wrote, you know, 600 songs, and he wrote these beautiful symphonies. So I want to kind of have a, you know, two week kind of celebration of chamber music and bring in some scholars to talk about Schubert and then we're going to perform one of his great symphonies, which I haven't performed in a while, and just really celebrate somebody who I think, you know, it's kind of a small guy from a small town outside of Vienna, was loved by musicians and was not just typically not celebrated until he was gone. But, you know, that's something that I can pass on to my students and say, you know, find something that you're passionate about, and like, really, really make something of it.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Here at Better Together we want to challenge the status quo, create new ideas, and never take“that’s the way we’ve always done things” for an answer. At Aspire Barber and Beauty Academy, their instructors feel the exact same way. The beauty industry is changing every day, and if you’re going to a school that’s only concerned with you passing the state boards, you’ll never make it behind the chair. From the owners of Loxx Salon and Spa, Aspire Barber and Beauty Academy was created to redefine education in the beauty industry and give future stylists, barbers, and beauty professionals the tools they actually need to succeed. Schedule your tour today at aspirebarberandbeauty.com. You recently concluded a two year term on the board of trustees at Tennessee Tech representing the Faculty Senate. How did this opportunity influence your perspective as a professor and a faculty member at TTU?

Dan Allcott:

Well, I was honored to be elected by the faculty senate to that position. Board of Trustees is a relatively new organization as a local board of trustees, and I was the third representative. And I'm not a person who's afraid to speak my mind. I'm a fully tenured, you know, full professor of music. You know, at this point in my life, I feel free to speak my mind. I've been a good observer of the university. I've worked with a lot of people across the university for years. And so I felt it was a great opportunity for me to share in kind of real time when we were talking about decision making. Well, here's how that would affect me as a professor, or here's how I think you're misunderstanding that and At best, I may have moved the needle a little bit because the perspective of Trustees is much different than mine. But you know, educating them as to what is really happening on campus or the the result of their decisions. And so it's super important. And it was great. I would say chair Trudy Harper was very generous in learning about different areas of the university and helping the other trustees learn about things. So she, because I was there, she said, we're going to learn about, you know, music a little bit, we had the choir perform for them one night at a social event, my university orchestra came and played at lunch one time, and with no mechanician by any of us, the two students who got the top two awards, were spoken about at my last board of trustee meetings, were both non major members of the university orchestra. And in fact that Derryberry winner the basically our valedictorian was my concert master at the University of Exeter, the less so she's like, I think I'm finally getting it. You know that this is an important part of our university that that people they all people have to find their villages. And that music is an incredible village for a lot of people at the university. It brings people together. Oh, yeah, we you know, conduit. And it's funny when I when I was still music director in Oak Ridge, every once awhile, I would go to Oak Ridge High School orchestra performance. And I was friends with the then director of Putnam County Schools, and I would take a picture of their 300 member, high school and middle school orchestra. And I'd say, hey, look, it's going out at the best high school in the state. And he would text me back to the I know, all the aspirational schools that Putnam County looks at or whatever, they all have great, artful programs in music, and we don't have an orchestra in our, in our public school. That's something I like to agitate about every once awhile, and I only have so much power, but we should feel bad about it. Anyway.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Were you the only faculty member on the board of trustees? Yes. There's only

Dan Allcott:

one? Yes. Okay. So there's only as an elected, yeah, there's an elected faculty member. And all the others are appointed by the governor. You know, imagine the difference of somebody being appointed by the governor and me, that's a little bit different position. But I knew several of the trustees already because of my work in the community. And so that was, you know, to my advantage, I think that we had to work together on some projects.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Can I ask you an off topic? Question? Yeah. So I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. And one of the things that always comes up is something about how higher education has been blah, blah, blah, hijacked, you know, or whatever, whatever you whatever criticism people have about societies, for some reason, they slap it on higher education, like, that's where it all goes wrong. You know what I'm saying? And I'm sure you probably resonate in the sense of hearing those things. But why do you think higher education gets this stigma?

Dan Allcott:

Well, I think it's been that that attack is part of a plan, actually, higher education is where the United States has always made up the gains. That's, you know, when that people look at education systems in other countries, we always made up, you know, the difference in higher education. So I think saying that our education system, you know, has flaws or as major flaws and needs to be tinkered with, is actually part of a plan. You know, if you call something bad enough, you get to change it. And so I think that there's just been an effort to change things, you know, and also there's been an effort to corporate ties it, and faculty members cannot teach freely, if they're under threat of unemployment all the time. And you don't want an education system to vacillate back and forth so quickly. It should change slowly. And what should change, I mean, our university is changing, we're moving along with making changes, it has to evolve. But if everything is at the whim of one political meaning or another, you don't maintain a great tradition, you don't maintain these great universities. And I know I mean, this is not even a political, it's not a conservative or liberal thing. I went to Indiana University for my master's degrees. And, you know, that's a conservative state, but they have the largest music school in the world in Bloomington, Indiana, because that tradition was set down and that footprint was there. And they've maintained it. And it's a wonderful university, and we have the opportunity. I think our isolation from the big cities, in a way is a boon for Tennessee Tech. I think that we're a little less vulnerable in some ways. But yeah, it's part of a plan.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Do we have the biggest and best music program? In terms of higher education in the state of Tennessee?

Dan Allcott:

I think we have the strongest undergraduate education program, when I see day to day what our students have opportunities to do. And I work in other campuses a lot and I have friends that teach at these schools. And I can just look at my own program, what I've wanted to build what I'm able to do and where my students my former students are now I feel like we've been successful in that There's a National String Project consortium that was founded because in the 90s, I think it was, people started realizing that that a lot of string teachers were retiring, and there weren't enough string educators to replace them. And so high schools would give the orchestra to a bad teacher, and then it would be awful. And then it would die of attrition. There is this real push. And this is by the American string teachers association helped with the founding of this string. So we founded a String Project here, which is an after school string program for young people where they are taught by college students under the My mentorship and the mentoring mentorship of the lead teacher, Mia Haggerty, we're growing those students that we don't have a high school roster, but we're growing those and my teachers from that program are getting jobs. And so I had a great thing happened in auditions. Last spring, a young lady came played the violin, she was a non major, but she wanted to play in university orchestra and we get some scholarships and stuff. And I said, No, where did you start violence goes in your String Project. And that's amazing. I was like, wow, that's, that's crazy. And I know, she was a young woman by now. And then I she told me her name. And I was like, oh, man, I remember you when you had braces and whatever. So you know that that's a wonderful feeling. And you know, we've got that we've got the Bryan Symphony where students are sitting next to faculty members performing alongside finest musicians in Tennessee. When people come to play in the Brighton symphony, or this, our soloists come, they're so impressed, they can't believe the script. And I sometimes can't believe I go away, and I conduct other orchestras and friends of mine in bigger cities, or whatever. And then I come back and I, my string section is actually better than that. Like right now, my Viola section is really, really strong. I'm super excited about them. Viola is violin, viola is larger than a violin, okay? It's the middle voice in the orchestra in the string section. You know, we've just cultivated we have these people who I've for 20 years and longer, some of them have been traveling to Chattanooga to play with us, or, you know, this at the end of the season. One of my dear friends is coming. He's principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, which is my into my mind, the finest orchestra in the world. And he's coming back to play with us for his fourth time. But the Brian seven he played my first concert when he was a doctoral student, but you know, they come back here because we treat them well. And, you know, we try and pay them well, but it's not their outcome. They they come here because they know they're going to be valued by and they can make an impact in our community.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

What projects are you guys working on right now at Bryan Symphony Orchestra? You know,

Dan Allcott:

it's starting our 60th season. October 1 is our first concert as a subscription season. Well, they have our outdoor concert, which we had perfect weather for. And we had 2500 people there. So if you think about our county, l 60,000, or whatever, I always tease my friends who live in big cities. I like if you had the percentage turnout that I did, they'd have to call the National Guard, you know. So that was at dogwood Park. Amazing. Yeah. And we had a it was a super fun night. And we you know, we're now of a generation where like, you know, some of our pops music is like 80s, rock or whatever. So like, we did a journey medley that I was singing to the orchestra while I was conducting and getting the audience to sing along. Just had a great, great evening to start. But so we, you know, the thing that we're always doing in our concerts is we're trying to honor our tradition. There's about 400 years worth of music, I get to choose from turn 300 years anyway to perform. So we're honoring that tradition, but also doing new things and finding that new thing. So like on our opening concert, there's a violinist his name's Tracy Silverman, and he's a Juilliard trained violinist, but he's kind of gone rock and roll. And he plays an electric violin. And he's had a great Puerto Rican American composer read a new concerto new solo for him to play with the orchestra. And also Tracy's gonna do a whole workshop the day before. This is also collaboration with center stage at Tennessee Tech, and he's going to teach all these alternate techniques on his violin at

Kosta Yepifantsev:

here. Yeah. Wow. That's your train? Yeah, yeah. Wow. Yeah.

Dan Allcott:

I'll make a big deal about that Juilliard thing, because that's Indiana University. We get a little

Kosta Yepifantsev:

it's well, you know, it's popular culture.

Dan Allcott:

Or whatever. No, Tracy's a great guy, but he's gonna so he's gonna work with our String Project and our university orchestra students and then we're inviting area string teachers in to come and learn this new method. He's kind of teaching

Kosta Yepifantsev:

and is that the Discover Your symphony? Is that kind of

Dan Allcott:

discover our symphony is like for it? Basically, we're really inviting people to discover what is their orchestra about and we're discovering new things, and we're doing new things all the time. So most of our new subscribers, of course, are people that are new to the community. Right. And there's a lot of them. Yeah, and they are surprised. You know, they come in, they're like, this isn't the you know, what we call your income orchestra. This is a real I mean, they're, they're really impressed. So we want to make sure that people are constantly you know, discovering what we're doing, and we're we're doing new things. And we're really excited that concert actually is in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. So we've got this Puerto Rican composer and then another friend of mine from Knoxville who's coming he's a Latin composer is coming, we're doing a piece of his. So we're always looking to make every concert special. Of course, we're designing a season. But, you know, November, we're doing a memorial for Angela Volpe, who's the former president of the university, who was on our board of directors pretty recently, even. And so we're having a singer come back because Angelou love, he and I both loved opera and baseball, but we can only do the opera part on the concert. And then we're doing a collaboration with stage one and February, every concert has something special. And they also have something that hones the our tradition, like we have a symphony by Haydn, you know, in this concert that was written in the 18th century, and then we have a piece that was written two years ago. So it's fun for us to do.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, I find it fascinating because it seems like every 20 years, there's a huge influx of people that come to Cookeville unclickable changes dramatically. But because you guys have been consistent the orchestra that is, has been consistent in being able to sort of cast that wide net and bring people in. That's why it's continued to grow. So even as the population grows, that percentage stays the same, right? And so I can't I can't wait to see in 2045, how many people are going to attend a outdoor symphony? And yeah, it's pretty incredible.

Dan Allcott:

It's been that's been a really, you know, great thing. Dogwood Park, again, is one of the things that, you know, that pavilion that took some doing that took some people basically Sam and Diane Glasgow, you know, really pushed that along with some others. The pavilion was already here, but the next wave was to fix the park, because there used to be like an old department store and bar down there.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And so yeah, yes, my wife told me that. So

Dan Allcott:

my wife was on the committee. In fact, my wife was the one on the committee said, we need to have a water feature. So she likes to think that the reason we have that found or we like to think that but but we both, you know, that was something she was interested in, people realize that my wife was very community minded as well. And so we're glad to have seen the growth. But we also see the challenges with the growth, it's a little harder, it's actually harder to raise money, in a way because we don't know who to talk to at some of these big new corporations. Yeah, it's there's more screening, because if you have somebody that's an international corporation, you know, their philanthropy chair is in Madrid or something. My next

Kosta Yepifantsev:

door neighbor used to be Tony, that runs by cosa. And so you know, I'm sure you can talk to me, Oh, yeah.

Dan Allcott:

I will hit you up. But I mean, that's, that's part of our challenge. And we used to be you know, that our board was, like all the doctors or whatever, and they just talked to every other doctor, and they're like, We need $1,000 for the symphony this year. So it's changed, because Cookeville is a little bit bigger place, and there are other competing interests, and that's fine. When the symphony started. We were the only Gala. We were the first Gala. You know, I still have no, because I mean, it's you guys should have well, there's so many. Now, it's actually kind of that kind of has run its course almost we feel and you know, you're working harder to raise that money than than it was worth sometimes there are a few that everyone's want has somebody has a really good Gala. But that takes a lot of work. And it depends on what the makeup of your board and who those people are. So we keep finding other ways to do things. Like we started doing beers for Brahms, that father Tom's now as a part of the great give back from the Middle Tennessee Community Foundation. And so we figured out a way that we could game that system, they were having an online event every year forgiving, and there's like, it's the great payback. We said, we'll pay back, but we're going to invite everybody to Father Tom's to do it. Yeah. And we consistently were one of the biggest awardees in that great payback. So we'll just keep, you know, inventing the next new thing, and you have to be brave to move on from something that maybe has run its course and you can revisit them. But yeah,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

let's talk about aspiring musicians. As someone who has notably succeeded in their career as a professional musician, what is your advice to students and aspiring performers that know their calling is in the musical arts,

Dan Allcott:

there are two things that I share with my students frequently. One is you never know who's watching in any situation. Don't be late, and be prepared. You know, I've been in a situation where somebody came in to sub with the Atlanta Ballet orchestra, you know, their first time, and the personnel manager would come to me and say, What do you think of that, you know, person subbing, and I would get my opinion, and sometimes that person would go on to have a very successful time subbing in orchestras and be and then sometimes that person wouldn't come back. I said, Don't be, you know, for any reason, any dumb reason, people, musicians, make mistakes, be a good person to work with, and work hard. I would say with the exception of maybe one thing. Most of my best opportunities and music came when I didn't know someone was watching. I was conducting somewhere and somebody else saw me. I was conducting a school orchestra in Bloomington, Indiana, on a Schubert symphony, and the principal clarinet player of the Vienna Philharmonic was there visiting a friend. And he saw me. He spoke to my teacher. And then I got connected to a fellowship at the Salzburg Festival that summer where I spent the entire summer you know, I mean, I didn't, well, you weren't in your head. I was right, you were just trying to do a job, you know, yeah. And so, so many, my job at Atlanta Ballet, came the same way somebody was from Atlanta Ballet was visiting somewhere where I was conducting the ballet orchestra. And they started talking to me, and I ended up moving to Atlanta. So I share that with my students. The other thing is, you know, that you have to be brave enough to change my cello teacher, Yano, Straker, there's a great online lecture, it's on YouTube, because he's passed away where he it's called a lesson in music, but it's also a lesson in life, really. And he talks about the levels, in his case of music making, and you know, you get to a certain level, and you're the best at that level. And the only way to get better is to make some kind of change, that allows you to improve more. And change is hard. You know, if you've always held your bow a certain way, and then only thing that's gonna get you to the next level is you have to make a little change. And musicians are very, you know, horn players will tell you like, oh my gosh, my teacher told me, I have to change my ombre sure, you know, or whatever. And it's very difficult. But that's where that next, and I'm still doing that. And I'm sharing that with my students. So I tell them, Don't be afraid to do that. And we and I have this like, I call it the levels of Sucka tude, I tell them, you're at the highest level that you're going to get to right there, you got to move to the next level of Secretariat so that you have all that, that room and I learned that from from my teacher. So that was wonderful advice. And it makes me confront I have, you know, fears and this and that. And so in my, you know, non music life, I kind of present myself with challenges. I'm like, Well, why why should I be afraid that so like, you know, I have a sailboat that I sail on the ocean, and I'm like, don't be a certain standard. Don't be afraid to do that. Just because there's eight knots of tidal current pushing you

Kosta Yepifantsev:

back and saying that sounds like something I would never know. It's, you know,

Dan Allcott:

everybody does things. I just try not to do things where I endanger my life. So,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

so we always like to end the show on a high note, who is someone that makes you better when you're together?

Dan Allcott:

Does anybody not say their spouse, because I'm gonna not say my wife, but I'm gonna say that my wife is wonderful. And we have a great partnership. And people talk to us about our partnership. We've even had bankers say, Wow, that's great how you guys talk about things things, but I'm gonna say this, my son, Carter, my son is 27. And he has autism. And he has had so many challenges, but he is literally a person who lights up a room, you have to kind of go to him, you know, he gets along really well with adults, because adults can be very accommodating. But he makes everybody better. He brings an enthusiasm. He's still an all caught. He's a little bossy. He talks with his hands like I do. He's verbose, especially for somebody with autism. He has a trait called cocktail personality, which means he thinks you're interested in what he's saying. And he's going to convince you whether it's Power Rangers or fossils or whatever. But he is really an inspiring young man, and probably changed me more than anybody that even then my teachers, a special needs families are can be volatile, and a lot of the marriages break up because it's, it's shocking you it's not something you expected, maybe or whatever. But I think that Carter, you know, changed me and our marriage and my wife and his sister for the better and continues to do that. And a lot of people in Cookeville know him. He's very recognizable. He looks quite a bit like me, especially now that he has a beard. So yeah, I think most people who have met him kind of feel that same way. And also in our family, we're like, if somebody doesn't pass the Carter tests, we're not hanging out with them anyway. They don't like Carter, there's something wrong with him because he's, he's a lot of fun. And he and I've, I think now especially as he's an adult, and you know, we're looking at this next years together, we still have a lot to do together.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

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Morgan Franklin:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev. If you've enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. Leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin post production mixing and editing by Mike Franklin. Want to know more about Kosta visit us at kostayepifantsev.com. We're better together. We'd like to remind our listeners that the views and opinions expressed during this episode are those of the individual speakers and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of this show its producers or any related entities or advertisers. While our discussions may touch on various topics of interest, please note that the content is intended to inspire thought provoking dialogue and should not be used for a substitute for professional advice.Specifically, nothing heard on this podcast should be construed as financial, legal, medical or any other kind of professional advice. We encourage our listeners to consult with a professional in these areas for guidance tailored to their specific circumstances.