Concerto for Viola and Orchestra

 Composed:  2010 
 Commission:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra, dedicated to Ellen Rose
 Premiere:  Ellen Rose, viola, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, January 10, 2010
 Duration:  25 minutes
 Instrumentation: Solo viola 3(3rd dbl. picc) 2 EH 2 1 Cbsn; 422 + BsTbn 0; timp. 3 perc. hp, strings


I. Caritas
II. ...fair as the moon, bright as the sun
III. Blithesome Spirit

The Concerto for Viola and Orchestra was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and is dedicated to violist, Ellen Rose. The concerto musically describes a person (the soloist) who is on an internal journey.   In the first movement the solo part begins in a mood of questioning and anger, contrasted with an orchestral atmosphere of blurred color and melodic fragments that suggest the chant, Ubi Caritas. Under the influence of the orchestra, the passionato mood of the soloist gradually dissolves, turning to a mood of compassion and charity with only occasional references to the opening tensions. Near the end of the movement, the solo viola plays Ubi Caritas, accompanied only by low string harmonics and flute.   This is followed by a melody inspired by Caritas, first in orchestral tutti, and then solo viola.   The second movement, ...fair as the moon, bright as the sun... is simply a love song.  Opening with soft breathless motion in the orchestra, "like a light breeze through white clouds", it quickly goes to a melody in the viola that exudes warmth, pleasure, and delight. The name is taken from the biblical, Song of Songs (6:10).  The same chant, Ubi Caritas, is referred to near the end of the movement in the lower strings.  The last movement, Blithesome Spirit continues the light-hearted mood and becomes buoyantly playful, mischievous, and sometimes a bit jaunty.
Ubi caritas tas et amor, Deus ibi est.   (Where charity and love are, God there is found.)


"The piece opens edgily. English horn, harp and marimba attempt to calm the viola's anxieties, and eventually the soloist emerges transfigured. The orchestra responds with an ecstatic outpouring, and bell sounds bring the movement to a quiet close. The central movement bears a quotation from the Biblical Song of Songs: "...fair as the moon, bright as the sun..." In pre-performance remarks from the stage, Brouwer described it as a love song. The viola threads its melody through gentle rustles and cascades which gradually grow in richness and complexity. The finale is playful, even mischievous, with slides and scrawny on-the-bridge grunts for the viola, and sharply snapped pluckings for cellos and basses. She has written skillfully and imaginatively for both viola and orchestra, and the music engages start to finish."  -Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News, January 8, 2010

- - Click here to read the article from the Journal of the American Viola Society- -   Laurie Shulman

NewMusicBox interview with Brouwer highlighting her Viola Concerto. Read or listen!   -Frank J. Oteri, NewMuiscBox, January 12, 2010