Friday, July 17, 2009

Part II of AfriClassical Interview With American Viola Society President Juliet White-Smith

["Fashionably Late: Juliet White-Smith Debuts!; Centaur 2982 (2009)]

On July 15, 2009, AfriClassical posted “AfriClassical Interviews American Viola Society President Juliet White-Smith.” As we present Part II of the interview, we want to again express our appreciation to Dr. Juliet White-Smith for making time for us between the two major Summer festivals at which she is performing this year:
Q. “I wonder if I could move to your CD? I wanted to first of all ask how you decided to call it 'Fashionably Late'”?
A. “I'm 47...”
Q. “Oh, by that standard?”
A. “Yes, and this is my first one.”
Q. “And then, how did you select repertoire for the CD?”
A. “Years ago, I had toyed with the idea of doing a CD of all African American music.” “ It wasn't feeling like it was something that was going to work and meet all the needs of me personally and something to put out there. So all of this, with the exception of the Colgrass, these are all first recordings. And I had performed the Walker several times at that point, and I really wanted to do that piece.” “Both the Gardner piece and the Walker, I felt passionate about and wanted to get their music heard. I know that George Walker has had a lot of things recorded. He's recorded a couple volumes of piano music and he's had some orchestral stuff done, but I thought people have got to hear this Viola Sonata! But I felt the same way about Maurice Gardner's music as well. So then at that point I felt well, that's not enough there, what else should I do? My husband and I had performed the Colgrass. So then I realized I've got two Pulitzer winners, between Walker and Colgrass, and that might make a nice bookend for the recording, so that's kind of how it went.”
Q. “How did you assemble the performers who are on the CD with you?”
A. “Well, my husband is the percussionist. The pianist lives in Denver now.”
Q. “That's Heidi Brende?”
A. “Yes.” “She had coordinated a Women Composers Concert a couple of years in a row, and we'd done a couple of other things, and realized that we clicked really well. The first time I performed the Walker, I asked her if she would be willing to learn it. So I think our first performance was actually at C.U. in Boulder on a guest recital I was doing there. Then we did it on a UNC concert of Black composers, and a couple of other times, I think at University of Denver since then and there might have been one other one in there.”

Q. “In addition to the recording I wanted to ask you about this piece that you're doing, 'Capricious...'?
A. “'Apparitions.'”
Q. “Apparitions,' okay, thank you.”
A. “Okay.”
Q. “That is by a fellow faculty member, is that right?”A. “It is, Paul Elwood. He just joined the UNC faculty this past academic year. The other violist that I'm playing with is a good friend and colleague who teaches at Penn State, Tim Deighton.” “Tim has a couple of pieces, the Michael Kimball pieces and this John Hawkins piece, and we were trying to figure out 'Do we know anybody who could compose something?' I said 'Well we've got a new faculty member.' So I asked Paul if he'd be willing to write something, and he was more than willing. I had heard some of his stuff when he first got here. He's very quick at composing, and it's really interesting stuff. He asked if we'd mind if he wrote a bowed banjo part for it, since that's his instrument, the banjo. And at first I thought 'Oh, no!' But I checked with Tim and he was fine with it, and I said 'Yeah, sure, go ahead.' Because Paul really – he wanted to see South Africa too.” “Tim and I have been talking for a couple of years, when we found out about this Congress that we wanted to possibly do a duo recital. And then in the meantime we kind of went our separate ways, but then we, I think toward the end of last Summer, started to think about doing this again. Then we did sort of a preview performance. We have an annual Viola Day here. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado.”

Q. “Is that the one that's called 'Viva-la-Viola'?
A. “Yes.”
Q. “So a reference to the Rocky Mountain Viola Society?”
A. “Right, and I founded that back in '95. That's how I got started in my involvement in the American Viola Society.”
Q. “Oh, interesting.”
A. “By starting that chapter, yeah. So anyway we performed it. We got snowed out the night before. We had to cancel the faculty performance. So we tacked on our performance to part of the students'.” “They loved it! Everybody really took to the piece.” “The bowed banjo has a little bit of a sitar-like effect. Paul said that he's written a really good piece.” “He loves old movies, and this piece gets its title from the Fellini film '8 ½.'”

No comments: