Category Archives: viola playing

Autumn ‘mini-tour’: Duo Concerts with Douglas Holligan in Edinburgh and St Andrews 15th and 19th October

 

 

shostakovich

It’s been a little while since I did some duo playing and so it has been extra rewarding to get together with fine pianist Douglas Holligan and start working on our duo programme for two concerts this October.

Our programme is a very interesting one, including two lesser played works. The first is Vaughan Williams’ charming Romance for Viola and Piano, which was published posthumously and probably intended for the viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis. The second is Shostakovich’s final work: his Sonata for viola and piano Op. 147 – a towering work covering the whole range of emotions, including what he himself described as ‘an adagio in memory of Beethoven’ which uses quotations from the Moonlight Sonata. Dedicated to the violist of the Beethoven quartet, Fyodor Druzhinin, it was composed just weeks before his death and you can almost hear the meditations on death and the afterlife in the elegiac outer movements. The playful middle movement draws heavily on music Shostakovich had written for an abandoned opera called The Gamblers, based on a Gogol play, and presents many challenges for both instruments, not least several passages of chromatic double-stopped parallel fourths!

Our first concert is 15th October at the Edinburgh Society of Musicians in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, at 7.30pm. This concert will also include piano works by Bach and Rachmaninov. The second concert is in St Andrews at The Byre Theatre at 1.10pm on Weds October 19th. Hope to see you at one of them (or both!)

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Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Byre Theatre, 22nd-24th June

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Bored of the Referendum campaigns? Then come down to the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, on the 22nd, 23rd or 24th June and see Byre Opera’s performance of Britten’s ghostly masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw. It is based on the novel by Henry James about a governess who goes to look after 2 children in a remote house, and the unearthly happenings that start to unfold after she arrives.

I am playing viola in the chamber orchestra, and this is the third Britten opera I have played in. I have come to like Britten’s style of writing- good tunes interspersed with idiomatic vocal writing, plus the advantage of the text being in English and therefore  easily understandable for the audience. Britten’s operas are often very inclusive, containing parts for children, and this opera is no exception – Miles is played by 2 young boys (there are 2 casts for different performances).

The facebook event is here and you will find Byre Opera on instagram as @byre_opera. Look forward to seeing you there – tickets are selling fast!

We are also touring the performance to Stirling MacRobert on 28th June and The Maltings, Berwick on 8th July if you can’t make the St Andrews performances.

 

Teaching studio now open again!

I’m excited to announce that I’m now ready to take on a few more private students. I teach all ages and abilities and tailor my teaching to the student’s capabilities and preferences. Ideally I would like a few more viola students, but as I teach both violin and viola, and violin can be a good starting point for viola, I welcome both instruments! I have an excellent record of my students passing ABRSM exams, with most achieving a distinction or merit.

student violinist

 

Here’s my profile on Music Teachers UK. Contact me if you are interested in learning to play or if you’d like to hone your skills! I am based in Fife, on the East coast of Scotland.

Fugue for Thought Podcast: A Viola Player Speaks, Part 1

Here’s a link to the blog article by Alan Missroon of Fugue For Thought that mentions the podcast that we recorded recently. I was inteviewed by Alan for an article for his blog back in 2014, and Alan was keen to talk to me about more viola related things, and this is the result! We talk about viola repertoire including concertos, being a viola player in the orchestra, recitals and a recent masterclass I did with Martin Outram, and much more!

 

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Podcast with Jess Wyatt of A Viola Player Writes. Listen to the episode in iTunes or via Podbean. This is Jess’s Facebook page. Jess Wyatt was another of my early guest interviewees who I burdened wi…

Source: Podcast: A Viola Player Speaks, Part 1

A special relationship

Great article about the student-teacher relationship, from Frances Wilson who blogs on classical music and pianism as ‘The Cross-Eyed Pianist’. She raises many points that I have often thought myself when teaching – the sensitive and personal nature of the relationship between the student and teacher, tailoring our teaching to fit the individual, and above all, the passion for their instrument that a good teacher should transit to his or her pupils!

Source: A special relationship

Teaching studio: currently full

Please note that currently, my teaching studio is full and I am not accepting any new private students for the moment. Sorry for any inconvenience – I do know that it is hard to find a good string teacher in Scotland!

If this situation changes, and it may do come the spring term, I will post on this blog and on my facebook page to let you all know! (See sidebar or here www.facebook.com/jesswyattviola)

Keep playing and practising in the meanwhile,

Jess

2016 projects

I can’t quite believe 2016 is here. But it is, and I’ve decided to make it the year that I do things that I’ve always wanted to do, and never quite had the time/energy/mental space to do. Here are the things I’d like to achieve in 2016, and the ways in which I hope to achieve them:

  • Learning to play Baroque viola: excitingly, this one is already underway, as I have been lent a baroque viola by a friend! I can’t quite believe my luck as baroque violas are pretty rare beasts, and this one seems to be exactly the right size for me. I already possess a baroque bow (more on the differences between modern and baroque set up here) so now I just need to learn to play the instrument – harder than it sounds…  This is all so that I can hopefully participate in the new Kellie Consort Easter project which is Bach’s Mass in B Minor – TBC following auditions later this month.

baroque viola

  • Doing more chamber music with friends and colleagues – I have a half formed plan for this forming at the back of my mind but this needs a bit more time and energy spent on it. Watch this space (and my facebook page!)
  • Improving my (very rusty) piano skills – this is a big one, as my confidence on the piano has never been high, despite piano lessons through school and achieving grade 8 aged about 16… I would like to be able to accompany my younger pupils in lessons and possibly even exams, but at the moment my lack of confidence is holding me back. I think I may try and get a few piano lessons from one of my many pianist friends…
  • Doing more singing and playing for pleasure – after about 18 months of doing almost full-time teaching, my own playing has taken a bit of a back seat and I’m trying to get back to the balance of playing and teaching that makes me happiest. I’m playing for a good friend’s wedding in April which I’m really looking forward to, and hopefully other fun opportunities will present themselves during the year. My husband and I are also both wanting to get back to singing regularly in a choir, as we met in one back in the day and miss it!
  • Taking up new and exciting opportunities – I’m quite open to new experiences, and I have been asked recently to write for the British Viola Society’s newsletters, which was very flattering – they published a short article about me in their December newsletter which you can find here. I’m also revising a post on this blog for their Feb newsletter at the moment. A few other exciting things may be popping up this year as a result of the BVS collaboration  – I have signed up for a workshop day with Martin Outram of the Maggini Quartet in Feb, which will hopefully be amazing 🙂

So here’s to a musically exciting 2016 🙂 If you’ve got the January blues, check out this Pinterest board with viola-related loveliness! (My fav is, of course, Keep Calm And Play The Viola!)