Linda Shaver-Gleason, Ph.D. Musicologist, Writer, Program Annotator, Teacher

Program Notes

Program notes shape an audience's experience. They prepare a listener for a singular live performance, a series of ephemeral events that have the potential to form enduring memories. Program notes supply the audience with information to help them enjoy the moment.

Drawing from the vast repertory of Western art music, the potential combinations of pieces on programs are infinite. The potential makeup of any given audience is likewise infinite. Why settle for program notes taken from a fixed database, written for audiences from decades ago? Linda Shaver-Gleason crafts program notes that relate pieces to the whole performance, addressing it to specific audiences, according to her clients' needs.

A Balance of History and Description

Linda's program notes balance two main approaches to the repertoire: historical and descriptive. The historical approach discusses the context for the composition of the work, or, when appropriate, notable performances. This allows audiences to better understand how the music came to be and how it functioned over time. The descriptive approach details the musical events within a work, giving the audience an awareness of what to listen for.

The relationship between these components varies from piece to piece as well as audience to audience. For an audience that is new to classical music or a work that is less familiar, a detailed description can help a piece become more accessible. For a seasoned audience and a well-known work, some interesting historical information can cast a piece in a new light and encourage a listener to hear it in a different way.

"As a musician herself, Linda understands exactly how to make the music come alive before one even hears a note being played. She is an eloquent and expressive writer and always presents interesting new things to each program she writes for. I find myself learning new things in her notes, which inspires me as a performer."

Helen Callus, Violist

With Linda's years of experience as a performer and musicologist, teaching music and non-music majors at the collegiate level, she is well-versed in music history and conveying musical ideas to people with a broad range of musical knowledge. She works with clients to determine which balance of approaches is most appropriate for their organization.

Read sample notes with a historical emphasis »
Read sample notes with a descriptive emphasis »

"The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra relies on Linda to convey in words what the audience is about to hear on the stage. She does this with precise and well written program notes that are enjoyed by our patrons. It is a pleasure to have Linda as part of the SBCO Family."

Kevin Marvin, Executive Director,
The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra

New Music/Living Composers

For new music, program notes are essential for preparing the listener, as this one performance will be the first time that most of the audience will hear the work. Linda has collaborated with composers to produce notes that help them communicate with their audiences without overstepping the boundaries of composer intent.

Read sample notes for new music »

Emerging Technologies

In the 21st century, many arts organizations are embracing technology as a way to draw new audiences and provide them with enhanced listening experiences. Some have devoted Twitter feeds to provide live information about the music as it plays; some have created interactive videos on their websites to allow visitors to explore the music more intimately. Older styles of program notes cannot adapt to these circumstances, but Linda will work with your organization to design solutions that honor the music and your audience.

Consulting/Editing Services

If you are a composer or performer looking to write your own program notes but wish to have some guidance from an experienced annotator, Linda can help. Having taught both writing and music history, Linda has assisted people in communicating their ideas and overcoming the challenges of expressing music through the written word. She is available for all stages of the writing process, from getting started to final revisions.

Contact Linda today to get started »