Julia Adolphe on composing a viola concerto for NY Phil’s Cynthia Phelps

Posted on: November 17, 2016

“When New York Philharmonic audiences hear the first performances of Julia Adolphe’s viola concerto ‘Unearth, Release’ (Nov. 17-19), they may not realize the amount of labor that goes into creating an orchestral piece from scratch,” writes Alex Ross in the November 21 New Yorker. “The concerto lasts approximately nineteen minutes and took about a year to compose. Adolphe, who is twenty-eight years old and is completing a doctorate at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, received the commission in late 2014, after winning a competition at the American Composers Orchestra. She met with Cynthia Phelps, the Philharmonic’s principal violist, who will be the soloist in the première, and studied her sound.” The commission came about through a co-commission by the Philharmonic and the League of American Orchestras as part of a League program for female composers supported by the Virginia Toulmin Foundation; the concerto has already been performed at USC and at North Carolina’s Eastern Music Festival. Writing the concerto, Adolphe “began not with notes but words: a page of adjectives and images, indicating moods that she wanted to capture … from ‘drowning in uncertainty,’ Adolphe writes in a program note, to ‘embracing ambiguity.’ ”

Click here to read about the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers program in Symphony magazine.

Posted November 17, 2016