Tonight and tomorrow I am performing with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra again. This time, instead of a pops concert, I am sitting principal for the first classical concert of the season. We are performing Dvorak's Carnival Overture, the Rondo of Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos with young pianists Philip and Oliver Shou, Vaughn-Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Respighi's Pines of Rome. It's a really excellent concert, with lots and lots of notes!
For me, the most exciting piece on the program is the Vaughn-Williams. See, there are many works in which principal string players have a solo. Generally they fall to the concertmaster or principal cello, though the Respighi has a small viola solo that isn't especially exposed. The Vaughn-Williams, on the other hand, has an EXPOSED viola solo.
See there? At Rehearsal I where it says Solo? Well, Vaughn-Williams means it. The principal viola is the only person playing on stage for a full six measures! Luckily it is not a technically difficult passage (unlike the virtuosic violin solos in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade), but it does wander, and is a little difficult to make musical sense of. I've never performed this piece, and I am excited about my first shot at it in front of an audience tonight. The solos continue throughout the piece, but with added string quartet, while the rest of the string orchestras (the piece is for two string orchestras) do other things. It's a really beautiful piece, and I am looking forward to tonight's concert!