Lament With Ghosts

Solo viola with consort of six violas

17 minutes

2009

Lament With Ghosts, for solo viola with consort of six violas, is a part of my 54 minute piece, Lament Amid Silence, which consists of Lament for solo viola, Ghosts for six violas, Lament with Ghosts for solo viola with viola consort, and two meditations for piano solo. Each section of this piece may be programmed individually, or in combination with any of the others.

The present work, in which both the solo piece and the ensemble piece are played simultaneously, results in a concerto for viola accompanied by an ensemble of six violas.

As its title implies, the the solo work, Lament, is an expression of passionate, even operatic grief. The ensemble represents “ghosts”, fragments of feeling and action that have in some way led up to and are a disembodied reflection of the solo work. In both pieces, anguished writing featuring expressive quartertone passages and glissandi is set off by two melodic sections of the utmost simplicity. In the first of these quiet sections the “ghosts” contribute whispered commentaries on the solo’s melody; in the second, they join to turn the solo’s melody into an expressive chorale. Throughout the work, but especially at the beginning and ending, vast stretches of silence encompass the anguish: the work begins with a scream that emerges from silence, and at the end quiet, fragmentary phrases die away as each player leaves the stage, until only the soloist is left, her quiet pizzicati fading into the all-encompassing silence.

This virtuosic work is written for and is dedicated to Helen Callus and her wonderful students at UCSB.