As I walked over to Eastman this morning to get some (iced) coffee, I saw a number of people with instrument cases. This week, of all times, I felt pretty safe in assuming that these cases were holding violas, and not violins.

The International Viola Congress is here in Rochester! I wish I knew some sort of secret viola handshake or high sign to let everyone know how excited I am that they’re all here. So far, I’ve just settled for a manic smile and a nervous wave.

There are concerts (baroque viola music, world premieres, electric viola, arrangements, and yes, the few romantic standards and favorites that the viola can claim), workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and even early morning viola yoga. 

Here’s the schedule. Everything is open to the public, and most of it is free.

Tonight’s Grand Opening Concert will also be broadcast on WXXI (Classical 91.5 in Rochester, 90.3 in Houghton, and heard ‘round the world online here.)

There was already some viola excitement earlier this week at WXXI when several of the participants came in to play on our show Backstage Pass. As soon as I see the video of that program posted online, I’ll post it here. Also, I had a lovely conversation with violist and composer Atar Arad. You can listen to it online here.


Other viola links: 

You can follow the International Viola Congress on Twitter.

There's an International Viola Congress blog on the Eastman website

Viola Jokes (natch)

American Viola Society

Viola reading list: 

Playing the Viola: Conversations with William Primrose by David Dalton

The Viola: Complete Guide for Students and Teachers

Lillian Fuchs: First Lady of the Viola 

My Viola and I by Lionel Tertis



Just as an aside -- I’m especially excited about seeing the Cynthia Phelps and Rebecca Young play Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Two Paths” with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Thursday. I saw them play the premiere with the NY Philharmonic when I was in high school, and it was an amazing experience for a young violist.