V!ola Day 2.0

P!ty the poor violinist who loves the sound of viola, but is too small to ever play the instrument. The next best thing she can do is hang out with violists, a glorious lot.

Enter V!ola Day 2.0.

V!ola Day, a production of the Utah Viola Society (rocking the alto clef in the beehive state since 1896) and spearheaded by Fry String Quartet violist Brad Ottesen and Utah Symphony violist Julie Edwards, is a celebration of all music viola. Nothing is more delightful than spending a cool fall day in the genial warmth of this instrument and its players.

Alto clef cookies at every V!ola Day

Alto clef cookies at every V!ola Day

V!ola Day began with a master class with the esteemed English violist Roger Chase, followed by tea and conversation with the same. Followed by pizza lunch and a euphony hall (please wash greasy fingers before handling the v!olas), attendees were able to test-play dozens of violas. Additionally, Brant Bayless demonstrated violas by Scoggins, Moroz, and Prier, among several other noted Utah luthiers, allowing the audience to compare instruments from the hands of a maestro. University of Utah DMA candidate Leslie Richards presented her thesis on the use of scordatura in viola repertoire (sounds way different than notated, but works out beautifully). The Fry Street Quartet played old and new viola quintets (one, in premier, a wedding present for its cellist, in congratulations for marrying a violist). The final event, a recital featuring viola ensembles from university programs throughout Utah, ended with the Utah premiere of Scott Slapin’s trio “Capricious” introducing the three newest members of the Utah Symphony (mighty nine) viola section.

But wa!t. There’s more! Just in case V!ola Day was not enough (can one ever have enough viola?) Roger Chase returned the next evening to present the The Tertis Project, a celebration of 20th century English viola music.

In all, V!ola Day was a beautifully balanced program of performance, music old and new, and information. Attracting high school students through seasoned professionals, the event was still intimate, allowing for interaction among all attendees. We in Utah would enjoy having you join us next year. But in case we are too far away, a cursory Google search shows viola days celebrated in the US in Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Minnesota, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Michigan, California, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, New York, Illinois, and New Hampshire; in the UK in London, Oxford, and Birmingham; and in Germany in Mannheim. Surely you can find a viola day near you. And if not, gather your viola friends and make one yourselves.

The music always unique, always beautiful, I’m hoping for a viola-trombone duet at V!ola Day 3.0.

Article originally published on Violinist.com