Miles Hoffman Comes to Chestertown!
The viola will emerge from the shadow of the violin, its smaller, higher-voiced sibling, when Miles Hoffman performs in Chestertown on Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, Kent County.
Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with
whom he regularly tours the United States. However, he is equally — if not more — well known to radio listeners as the classical music commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition news program. He is also the author of The NPR Classical Music Companion, a listening guide.
Pianist Reiko Uchida will accompany Hoffman in a program including works by Robert Schumann, Bach, Brahms and Chopin as part of the National Music Festival’s Resonance music series. Uchida has appeared often as a guest artist with Hoffman’s chamber group, and she has also collaborated with the Borromeo and the Tokyo String Quartets.
If the viola has been eclipsed by the violin as a solo instrument, Hoffman says blame it on musical trends of the Baroque period, from roughly the year 1600 to 1750.
In instrumental music and opera of the era, “high voices” were favored causing the viola to become “essentially devalued as a solo instrument,” he said. In the later Classical period, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven started writing “very interesting, very difficult viola parts in their chamber music,” Hoffman added, “but it wasn’t until … the late 19th and into the 20th that the viola came back into its own as a solo instrument.”
One example from that period is “Two Pieces for Viola and Piano” by English composer Frank Bridge around 1906. Its slow movement has been described as “restrained and elegiac” while the second is “exuberant and expansive.”
“Reiko and I are really looking forward to coming to Chestertown for the recital,” said Hoffman who played a concert here “many, many years ago” at Washington College. “I’ve been looking forward to coming back to town ever since, it’s such a beautiful town and this is a wonderful series and Reiko and are just delighted to have been asked to play on this series.”
Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students with ID and children under 14. NMF 2019 Combination Pass holders are guaranteed admission to all of this season’s Resonance performances — and all ticketed events of the 2019 National Music Festival, June 2-15, which will include more than 35 concerts ranging from small ensembles to symphony orchestra with chorus, plus 200 free open rehearsals. To purchase Resonance tickets online, click here.
RES·O·NANCE /ˈrezənəns/ Noun: the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating … a quality of richness or variety.