Prelude & Dance, for Viola and String Orchestra
Craig Mumm, viola, Barron Collier (FL) High School String Orchestra conducted by Adam Michlin
About This Composition
I was commissioned by Adam Michlin, conductor and teacher of Orchestral studies at Barron Collier High School in Naples, FL, to compose Prelude & Dance. Adam and I had been friends since 2006 and he greatly surprised me by showing up in 2007, unannounced, at the World Premiere of Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra for Robert Vernon, and conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Adam had been a fan of my music (not to mention the viola!) and felt he just had to be at the Premiere. Over the next year he kept dropping little hints that I should write a short work for the high school string performing level. I had never thought of doing that and was extremely busy, but in 2008 I agreed. It was decided I would compose a 3–4-minute work for solo viola and string orchestra. We had numerous discussions regarding difficulty of the parts for the string players and for the solo part. In the case of the solo part for this Premiere difficulty was not an issue, as the soloist would be Craig Mumm, Assoc. Principal Viola of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. However, for future performances I had to consider difficulty carefully so I kept the original solo part and then re-wrote it in a much easier version. In addition, I re-wrote the part for solo violin, both difficult and easy versions. Being a serious lover of the viola Adam had been putting on Viola Day at Barron Collier for a few years. This is a wonderful day-long celebration of the viola, with master classes, lectures, performances of viola works with piano, consulting with advanced students about career development, ending up with Adam conducting a concert with the string orchestra. On this occasion, Jan. 19, 2009, Prelude & Dance received its World Premiere. It was an exhilarating experience: Craig did a wonderful job with the solo part, and the student string orchestra dedicated themselves to playing with beautiful precision and expression, all under the eagle-eye-conducting of Adam. It remains a very memorable moment.