Greetings from the 2017/2018 school year! It's hard to believe the summer is behind me, and I'm back to work already. I had a wonderful summer, most recently visiting the Oregon coast with James and Tula. It was the perfect way to store up some peaceful energy to counter some of the madness I'm sure to encounter this year. It's the end of the first week of classes, and I'm excited about the new and returning students (though missing those who have moved on), and am getting ready for a recital on Tuesday, followed by a trip across the world the following day.
See, a few years ago, Elizabeth Crawford (clarinet) and I began playing together. Our first collaboration was Rebecca Clarke's Prelude, Allegro, and Pastorale (which you can watch here). We enjoyed playing together, came up with a snazzy name for our duo (Violet), and thought it would be fun to program some more duets. But when we starting looking for more pieces to play, we found only a handful for clarinet and viola alone. In fact, after much research, we only found about twenty duets, and often the music was difficult to acquire. So, we started thinking... why not commission some more music?
Our first commission was by Shawn Head, a Houston-based composer with whom I've worked on several occasions. His Duet was a hit with audiences, so we took it on the road. In October 2016, we performed both Clarke and Head at the College Music Society National Conference. A few days before our session, I met John Mlynczak, VP of Sales and Marketing at Noteflight, who later came to our presentation. I'd told John of the lack of music for clarinet and viola, and after our session, he proposed a collaboration-- his company would host a composition competition for Violet, give the winner a nice prize, and Libby and I would have some awesome new music to play! You can read all about that project here.
In addition to the more than 100 pieces we got from the Noteflight competition, we've also been asking composers that we know to write for us. The response has been overwhelming, and our shelves are bursting with brand new music for Violet. We're still working on our website (you can check it out here-- I welcome any constructive criticism you have!), and our full debut recital is on Tuesday night! 7:30 PM in Sursa Hall, free and open to the public. The concert will be streamed live, so if you'll be too far away to come, you can still join us virtually. We'll be playing works by Daniel Sitler, Eleanor Trawick, Stu Scott, Thomas Johansson (winner of the Noteflight competition-- he's flying all the way from Sweden to be at the premier of his piece!), Daniel Swilley, and Zack Browning. It's going to be a great concert, and we hope you'll join us. We're taking the majority of the program to New Zealand, where we'll be presenting at the International Viola Congress. More on that to come from Wellington.