I’m particularly fond of the viola, lying between the violin and the cello it has the qualities of both - a noble rich deep tone, and the virtuosic fluency of the violin.
The Festival, so wonderfully supported by the Tertis Foundation, has welcomed a succession of the world’s finest violists: our Patron Rivak Golani, Lawrence Power, Tabea Zimmermann among them… This year Antoine Tamestit joins the list - in an all Bach programme.
Bach himself played the viola, so too did many other great composers: Monteverdi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Hindemith, Vaughan Williams… a mighty list surely not to be mocked.
Over the years the viola has been the butt of numerous jokes - mainly I assume from jealous violinists. But no, it is the viola players themselves that most relish these jokes. There is a long web page of viola jokes that has been visited more than 1,500,000 times!
The ones I like are those that turn the tables on the violinists:
What separates viola players from the apes?
The second violins.
Why are most viola jokes so short?
So that violinists can remember them.
'The difference between violin and viola is that the viola is a violin with a college education.' (Attributed to William Primrose)
Lionel Tertis was already a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in 1900, four years before the great violist William Primrose [quoted above] was born.
There is a blue plaque in Wimbledon on a house in Marryat Road celebrating the fact that Lionel Tertis and his wife Lilian lived for many years in our community. Lionel took the instrument out of the orchestra and its traditional role in chamber music and showed the world that it was an impressive solo instrument, and encouraged composers to develop its solo repertoire.
I invite you to hear what the attraction of the viola was to so many great composers - Tamestit plays Bach - November 15
I’m delighted at the response of the performing musicians in our community - Professional and Amateur - who have responded to the invitation to perform in a day long informal concert at St John’s Spencer Hill.
As a new event this year the participation is remarkable, with all 4 two-hour sessions fully subscribed: 10.30 - 12.30 / 13.30 - 15.30 / 16.00 - 18.00 / and 19.30 - 21.30
It would be nice for them to play to an appreciative audience, so please drop in and support the many musical talents in our midst.
Playfest All Day - Saturday 3rd November St John's Church, Spencer Hill, SW19 4NZ