for soprano, viola, cello, and piano
Text by Cynthia R. Fogg
premiered September 19, 2010
Gwendolyn Lytle, soprano; Cynthia Fogg, viola,
Tom Flaherty, cello, and Genevieve Feiwen Lee, piano
Bridges Hall of Music
This set is an exploration of the life the violist. The instrument is quite a bit larger than the violin, but violists are not generally larger than violinists. This disparity can sometimes lead to injury, which can be the cause of a tragic though temporary separation of the instrument and instrumentalist. Grand Pause compassionately salutes aching violists everywhere. The larger size of the instrument also has acoustic and musical ramifications. With its range in the middle of the string family, it rarely carries either prominent melodic material or harmony-defining bass parts. Its frequent relegation to providing “mere filler” parts in ensembles is at least part of the inspiration of a large collection of Viola Jokes. On the other hand, when it does take the center stage it sings with a vivid, powerful, and unforgettable voice. The trials, tribulations, and celebrations of life as a violist are explored in these two songs, the beginning of an ongoing series.
My problems? Fortissimo!
I long for Giocoso! Capriccioso!
That’s why my happiness starts to crescendo
Like rolling arpeggios driving toward heaven!
And now here’s the climax:
Life then comes to a grand pause
1 a particular kind of syncopation that seems to ignore the prevailing meter.
2 when a syllable needs more than one note. Sometimes a lot more.
3 veryveryveryveryvery soft.
4 appropriately noisy
5 wider leaps than singers should be asked for, but nearly rhymes with heaven
6 shoeshine motion with bow
7 a brand of pianistless piano.
8 a distant, windup ancestor of the iPod.
9 a cheese with more dependence on mold than is typical.
10 dying away, as life must, eventually.
12 softer and softer and softer and softer and softer and softer and softer and softer and softer
A fingerboard long and mysterious
Why can’t violas just have frets?13
When playing Bartok string quartets
Pianos have keys, traversed with ease.
The guitar is indefensibly indebted
There are keys on clarinets!
Just give us frets!
So – listen, folks!
Why can’t violas just have frets?
other choral ensembles