ear ye, hear ye! All hail the…VIOLA!

Cincinnati is going to see an influx of violists starting this Wednesday. The Conservatory will be a SWARM with them, like ants to sugar.

CCM is hosting the 2010 International Viola Congress (check the site out!), where – and you probably guessed it – violists congregate! Here’s a snippet from their site:

“The 2010 congress will build on the traditions of congresses past while exploring new events and ideas. Inspired by the Roman god Janus found above the doors to the College-Conservatory of Music, our theme looks forward and back at the various roles of violist as soloist, pedagogue, chamber, orchestral, and experimental musician.”

I’m actually rather excited about this event; I know, it’s rather odd being a clarinetist and all. But, there’s something really fascinating about watching and learning from other instrumentalist, particularly stringed instruments. I remember watching a string quartet masterclass in upstate New York – there I learned how the body is directly linked to the sound production of the instrument. The body acts like a resonator, in a way, and creates this core for the sound. With the viola (and violin) I learned that the core sound comes from the abdomen, stomach, and chest and poor posture can really effect the players timbre and sound. This pedagogical concept easily applies to other instruments, and for that matter, SHOULD be applied to other instruments. It parallels exceptionally well!

I suppose that me really liking the viola kind of helps perpetuate my excitement. It’s such a rich and warm instrument and no wonder Mozart  love it so much. To me, its dark-toned sonority resembles that of the clarinet (probably the reason for my said proclivity).

Though it doesn’t share the large solo repertoire that its sister, the violin, has – it most definitely has its own lush and unmistakably wonderful “tour de forces” works that can stand in unabashed light  in the classical world. Many of my favorite composers wrote for the viola: Milton Babbin, Claude Debussy, Malcolm Arnold, Bartok, and Albeniz. Each composer beautifully crafted works that really exemplify the characteristics of the viola and all its gorgeousness.

Tōru Takemitsu, a very serious Japanese man

I’m actually fortunate enough to be performing at the viola congress this Thursday night for the Gala Concert. I’m playing the CONTRABASS clarinet (and all it’s rather odd glory) on the Tōru Takemitsu. Here’s the program for that evening (if you can go, GO):

Elgar: Cello Concerto with David Aaron Carpenter, viola
Takemitsu: A String Around Autumn with Nobuko Imai, viola
Rösel: Viola Concerto with Walter Küssner, viola
Bartók: Viola Concerto with Lawrence Dutton, viola

While browsing the internet, I found these really wonderful works for viola, and wanted to share them with all you none viola playing friends (or viola playing friends). They’re definitely worth a listen:

Claude Debussy, Sonata for flute, viola and harp

Ivan Eröd Viola Concerto

The Takemitsu is such a great work. It’s such an exciting experience playing with amazing musicians that are sensitive to the music, phrasing, and PITCH! (The orchestra is a mix of CCM faculty, CSO musicians, Dayton Phil, and CCM students).

Now, I understand that a lot of violist think that Brahms wrote the Op. 120 Sonatas for you, but alas, you’re wrong. Brahms was inspired by a CLARINETIST; it just so happens that they sound pretty damn good on the viola too. Actually, when I’m preparing to performing the Brahms, you can always find that I have a few recordings of violists close at hand.

See for yourself how great they work on the viola!

And of course, I can’t forget the quaint Max Bruch 8 Stücke for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.83. These are really fun little works, dripping in all its romanticism et al. OR the Mozart Kegelstatt Trio! So many GREAT works! The classical world is fortunate to have such an instrument!

I’m excited about this week. Wish my bloggied blog was a little more cohesive, my thoughts are EVERYWHERE!


And Happy Music Making (huge a violist)!


One response to “THE VIOLISTs ARE COMING!!

  1. Pingback: Never Too Much Viola! « Sinfully Cincinnati

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