New music for viols

October 5, 2009

Those who can’t play music, end up writing about it instead. For want of playing time lately, I’ve been applying myself to learn how to write about music as part of my undergraduate study at University of New England (Armidale, NSW), Course MUSI109. Once the semester ends in November and coursework writing is finished, I’m hoping to do more playing.

Music on one CD of new music for viols keeps cropping up in my student efforts: Illicita cosa: Adventuresome Music from the 16th to the 20th Centuries, The New York Consort of Viols (Musical Heritage Society 513235M, 1993). My Top 3 from this album, which I often enjoy with the scores, are:

William Presser (b.1916), Song for Three Viols (1991), a very accessible three minutes of sonority for trTB; sheet music from PRB Productions (Contemporary Consort Series no.20)

Frank Russo, In Nomine (trtrTBB), awarded First Prize, 1989 Leo M Traynor Competition for New Viol Music; VdGSA New Music for Viola da Gamba, no.5. A delightful combination of lyricism and driving rhythms.

Will Ayton, Fantasia a4 (trtrTB), Audience Prize and Honorable Mention, 1989 Leo M Traynor Competition for New Viol Music; VdGSA New Music for Viola da Gamba, no.4.

Also on the album is a spiky and brooding Tison Street (b.1943) In Nomine for five viols. The interest in the In nomine gains further momentum in reviews in the VdGSA News March 2009 of Ballinger’s In Nomine (trTTB) and Harold Owen’s (SATB records and TTB viols). These editions may well join my VGSA New Music series no.1, Martha Bishop, In Nomine.

I look forward to adding the 2009 Traynor Competition publications to the collection: fellow Australian, Patrice Connelly (In Nomine “Five“), Jean Henderson (Serenade), John Anthony Lennon (As She Sings) and Donald Reid Womack (O magnum mysterium). From photos published of the 2009  Conclave, it looks happily as if a small contingent of Australians was present.

I have Carol Herman’s bass duets and I note Will Ayton has published TB/trT Duets for Bea (Allyon Wit Publications no.2, 2002), the latter reviewed in the VdGSA News Sep 2009. Peter Seibert’s use of two “choirs” in his Psalm, the first more technically demanding than the second, sounds intriguing (PRB Productions) – trtrTTBB.

Contemporary music for viols features also on Markku Lulajan-Mikkola’s latest CD on the Alba label, Gamba Nova, for which he has won the Finnish version of a Grammy award.

Now that I’m back on the membership list of the VdGSA, I look forward to reading back issues of the VdGSA News online for more new music.


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