Concerto for viola and chamber orchestra


June 4, 2020

Gavin’s Notes:

Viola Concerto
For solo viola
bass clarinet
2 French horns
strings (minimum

With the composition of the viola concerto I have now written concertos for each string instrument. It was commissioned by the Dark Mofo festival in Hobart, Tasmania, for the violist Morgan Goff with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and is dedicated to Morgan. The viola is one of the loveliest instruments,. Its dark sonorities and its warm expressive range accord with my general preference for low strings. The overall instrumentation reinforces this and the combination of generally low instruments has a resonance with the work’s planned premiere at the time of the long dark nights of the Southern Winter Solstice, something that has strongly influenced its composition.

It is a substantial work, lasting just under 30 minutes and, unusually for me, some of it is very fast. There is also a lot of quite complex string divisi in the orchestra which a number of instruments supplementing the solo part.

Morgan Goff is a truly great viola player, a virtuoso with a rich lyrical sound. Although born in the UK he was raised in Australia and, as well as having been in my ensemble for 18 years, is a close personal friend.

The piece was completed on June 4 2020, which would have been my mother’s 113th birthday…

Gavin Bryars