Sarah Albani on Preparing Walton’s Viola Concerto

Senior Sarah Albani is double major in music and biology. On Wednesday, February 18 she will perform Walton's Viola Concerto with the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place at 8 p.m. in Bellefield Hall Auditorium and is free to the public. Preparing the Walton Viola Concerto has been a discouraging and exciting experience. Over the span of learning the piece, I had so many repeats of the same scenario; I would come to a section that was very challenging, panic at the prospect of not being able to work through it (that was the discouraging part of the experience), and then, through a lot of puzzling over finger positions and bow placements I would eventually succeed at playing the passage so that I could move on to the next obstacle (that was the exciting part of the experience). Each of the movements of the Concerto provides something different for me to focus on with my playing. The first movement, for example, has many double stops, octaves, and notes that are played well into the upper portions of the A string; whenever I play this movement, I put my energy toward playing in tune and with clarity. If the first movement is like a cross country race with difficult terrain, the second movement is like a full-on sprint. It requires me to focus on playing quickly, efficiently, and with much agility, both in the left and right hands. Finally, the third movement, I believe, is not as technically demanding as the first two. However, it does require me to really focus on playing smooth, lovely phrases. The Walton Viola Concerto, on a whole, is a captivating piece, a piece where chaotic intensity and graceful tenderness flow seamlessly together. I am really excited to perform it with the orchestra!