Magazine article Strings

Fever Pitch

Magazine article Strings

Fever Pitch

Article excerpt

I always look forward to a new performance of Soul Garden and am currently preparing it for a concert with cellist Natasha Brofsky and the Jupiter Quartet. It is one of my favorite works because it explores the gospel side of the viola-not your usual viola repertoire! It combines elements of AfricanAmerican gospel and blues styles with very dramatic solo passages for the viola.

It's almost as if the solo viola is a gospel singer who starts out singing a beautiful melody and slowly begins to feel the spirit more and more emphatically. By the end of the viola cadenza, the intensity of the piece reaches a fever pitch, culminating in a wild call-and-response between viola and ensemble.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center commissioned it for a program I put together that also included some standard works for the viola. The premiere was with cellist Fred Sherry and the Miami String Quartet at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and a couple of years later I happily recorded the work with Fred Sherry and the Borromeo String Quartet. I was very fortunate in being able to work on Soul Garden with Derek Bermel. He has very strong ideas about the piece and whenever we revisit the piece together, Derek is happy to vocalize the first theme of the piece in the perfect gospel style.

There is only one edition of this work and I recommend it. There is also an expanded version of this work for viola and string orchestra. The current solo viola part is a collaboration between Derek and myself. Many changes were added by Derek as a result of his rethinking various passages of the piece leading up to the premiere and publication of Soul Garden. …

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