Programme Notes – Concerto for Violin, Viola and Wind Ensemble (2021)

This twenty-minute work, commissioned by the University of Georgia and written for two faculty members of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, Maggie Snyder and Michael Heald has two movements. The big challenge in composing the piece has been to establish an intricate relationship between the chamber colours and sensitivities of the two string instruments and the fuller, more ‘public’ sound of the wind ensemble.

In the first movement, a sonata form Allegro, chamber textures dominate – the fleet footedness of much of the material is passed amongst the soloists and ensemble with more reflective passages. In the middle part of the movement the mood becomes more explicitly joyous before an reaching elusive and intricate coda that mirrors the opening.

If the first movement has the elements of a comedy, the mood of the slower second movement is definitely more tragic. Here the two soloists often work together pitting themselves against a formidable backdrop featuring imposing doom-laden bell like sonorities. This is balanced by more soaring and lyrical passages, and briefly interrupted by a shadowy prestissimo. At the close, the viola and the violin are defiantly set in direct conflict with the increasingly ominous and threatening ensemble.