I was recently asked to write a piece for the British Viola Society for a ‘play day’ event on April 17th in Huddersfield. As a keen viola player and enthusiast, I couldn’t resist, and produced Leading Lines; a set of four short, contrasting pieces for viola ensemble or quartet.
The first piece is mostly in unison and introduces the idea behind the title of connecting ‘threads’ or ‘leading lines’ that pass between the parts. In art, ‘leading lines’ are lines that guide your eye through the painting or photograph and, in these pieces, the focus of attention is often passed between the four parts as suspended notes, parts of tunes or textural punctuation. In this respect, all parts are equally important although the majority of the more technically challenging melodic interest is given to Parts 1 & 2. The second piece is lively and rhythmic with constantly changing meter. The third piece capitalises on the wonderful sound a viola can make on the lower strings, with a slowly creeping and surging texture which evolves into beautiful solos with swelling accompaniment. The fourth piece demands bold, confident playing and is marked ‘Hack & slash – violent!’. This piece requires a good, strong sense of rhythm and an attacking playing style.
Parts 1 & 2 have occasional Solos (one player) where the parts divide. If performed by quartet, the Solos must be played. It may be necessary to limit the number of players per part during Solo passages if there is a large ensemble. Parts 3 & 4 are easier and demand less position shifting.
Duration: approximately 10 minutes
Difficulty: approximately ABRSM Grade 6 – 7
You can see a preview here: Leading Lines – Full Score (selected pages)
Cost: £10 for score & parts (digital download)