Viola Congress

It’s a grey, chilly afternoon in Rotterdam, and I am sitting in my Airbnb apartment on the 11th floor with huge, panoramic windows, overlooking a really cool city. I’m enjoying Rotterdam a lot, mostly because the International Viola Congress and its participants are so awesome!!

I was talking with my friend and colleague, Daphne Gerling, about IVCs, and she said one thing that makes each one really memorable is an event that can probably only happen in that year’s given location. Last night was such an event, titled “Music for Viola and Carillon.” The IVC Composer in Residence, Leo Samama, composed Cadenzas and Songs, which had its world premiere last night. The piece is written for amplified viola and church bells. It’s the coolest thing! I’ve definitely never heard anything like it. Here’s a short video clip I took.

Have you ever heard anything like that? Thanks, Rotterdam, for being so cool! I wish we could have seen the musicians while playing, but for obvious reasons that’s impossible with this instrumentation. But I kept looking up, half-hoping to see the amazing Karin Dolman perched near the top of the church tower, rocking out on her viola (it would have looked like a cross between the Batman light signal and the cover of Gil Shaham’s Devil’s Dance album).

But, alas, it was not to be. :-)

In addition to concerts, I’ve attended lectures, presentations, and a number of master classes so far this week. I was really impressed by Timothy Ridout, who at only 24, has already taken the viola world by storm. He taught a master class yesterday that was really special, especially because of his amazing demonstrations. The range of colors he’s able to achieve is stunning. Every stroke of his bow is special. It’s really something. If you haven’t heard him perform, please do. It is SO worth it.

I had my own master class this morning. The room was packed, which was really great, and I helped the three students who played for me sound better, and got a lot of positive feedback afterwards from friends and colleagues, and even strangers. That was really wonderful.

I was also incredibly happy to collaborate on a 1919 project with wonderful colleagues. We presented on Tuesday, but I’ll write more about that soon. I’m off to explore “Sound Images from Africa,” because I don’t know any viola repertoire from Africa, so of course I want to learn more. That’s really the best part about Viola Festivals and Congresses— all of the exposure to music I didn’t know existed. Whomever says there isn’t a lot of viola repertoire out there is misguided. There is SO much music! And I’m going to go hear some more of it now. :-)

I will write again soon, but in the meantime, here are some images from around Rotterdam and the IVC.

Happy practicing!