Viola Heaven

Thursday was a thrilling day full of music. I spent the whole day at the Eastman School of Music attending events at the International Viola Congress. (The congress began the day before and continued into Sunday, but this was all I could attend.) I went to four recitals, two master classes, and an RPO concert. The day began (at 8:00) with an informal session of a room full of violists playing Brandenburg #6. Great fun!

The highlight of my day was, without question, hearing the superb Kim Kashkashian in recital, playing works of Brahms, Kurtág, and Schumann. I was one of her many fans who filled Kilbourn Hall. The first notes showed why she is regarded as among the very best, as this tiny woman effortlessly let loose a warm, fluid, full sound that enveloped us all and moved me deeply. Every motion, even the slightest, appeared to be intentional, decided for a deep musical purpose. Hearing her was both inspiring and humbling. (I was humbled many times that day!)

There were many other great things about the day. Touching on only a few others, I was thrilled to hear (by Ayane Kozasa) a performance of Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres” for viola and piano, which I’ve recently started practicing. And Peter Minkler’s take on the fast movement from Schumann’s “Märchenbilder” (“Rasch”) was almost comically fast, yet astounding in its flawlessness. I think I now am beginning to understand what my teacher was trying to get into my head (and hands) about the right bow stroke for this.

The very last music of the day was the RPO playing “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Thrilling!

A nice coda to this came on the plane to Chicago Saturday morning. The gentleman next to me across the aisle noticed that I was reading the program for the IVC, so he asked me if I had attended. I learned that he was not merely an attendee, but also a performer at the IVC. In fact, he was Atar Arad, professor of viola at the school of Music at IU Bloomington. He also was teacher to my viola teacher, Charles Gray. So, musically speaking, I met my grandfather.

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Author: Dan Griswold

A good life is motivated by love. My loves: the Triune God, family, music, friends, parishioners, theology.

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