Another Day, Another Viola Trio



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Meet Whittney, Joel, and Silu. They are Capricious.


One of my favorite parts of the Utah Viola Society’s Viola Day is our signature Viola Ensemble concert. Last year we featured a quartet of violists from the Utah Symphony performing the lovely York Bowen Fantasie for Four Violas. This year we are honored to present our three newest members of the Utah Symphony, performing a Utah premiere of Scott Slapin‘s viola trio “Capricious.” Joel Gibbs, Whittney Thomas, and Silu Fei will perform “Capricious” as part of Viola Day 2.0 on November 1, 2014 at the University of Utah.

Utah Viola Society members are certainly familiar with violist Joel Gibbs, as he made his stunning UVS debut last year performing Reger’s Suite #2 for Solo Viola. He’s from St. Louis, loves hiking, and has recently taken up rock climbing. (Beware those viola playing hands, Joel!)

Whittney joined the Utah Symphony viola section last fall. She’s originally from San Diego. I love her story about how she picked the viola. She says, “I played violin from the age of 8 years old and I grew up with a hardcore stage mom who attended my lessons, tape recorded and took notes during my lessons, and practiced with me. I absolutely hated that I had a lack of freedom and independence within my music. But one day I tried the viola and began viola lessons in addition to violin lessons. Much to my surprise, I noticed that whenever I practiced viola my mother would stay away and leave me to practice viola by myself. Later on I learned that my mother had a disdain for the viola and wanted me to solely pursue the violin, but I didn’t care because I loved my new independence and switched to viola permanently.” Viola as rebellion, who knew?!

Silu Fei is our newest member in the viola section, joining us just this September. Prior to joining us here in Utah he was a member of the Oregon Symphony. He’s an avid fly fisherman, he loves spicy food and sushi, and he’s married to violist NingNing Jin who plays in the Buffalo Philharmonic. When I asked him what animal he thought he most resembled he replied, “A pig ? My wife said I can sit on couch for whole day.”  Well, I don’t know about all that, but what I can say is that I’ve never heard a piggy sound that fabulous on the viola, so perhaps that is not the most accurate assessment!

Join us as this trio of violists present the Utah premier of Scott Slapin’s viola trio “Capricious” on Saturday, November 1 as part of the Utah Viola Society’s Viola Day 2.0!


Viola Viola VIOLA!!!

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Meet Madison Marshall, Mackie Moore, and Miriam Wagstaff. I just had the pleasure of listening to these lovely young ladies give a preview of their upcoming Viola Day performance. (Nothing makes me happier than this many violas in my house at once!)  They are preparing the Beethoven Trio Op. 87 which was arranged by Lionel Tertis for viola trio. What a perfect piece to play for a Viola Weekend that will be topped off with a recital of music devoted to works composed for Tertis.

These fabulous young violists are currently students of Dr.  David Dalton and Dr.  Elizabeth Wallace. Madison says that she is really in love with the Rebecca Clarke Sonata (I know, who isn’t?!?) and she named her viola Mr. Darcy. (Oooh, a lover of English viola music in the making!) Mackie Moore is already taking college classes in history and algebra at Utah Valley University and fits viola in when she can. Her viola’s name is Uqu, which is curiously inscribed on the tag inside the viola. Miriam Wagstaff doesn’t have a name for her viola (neither do I, other than awesome!) but she is a competitive Irish step dancer with the Shelley School of Irish Dance. I should have had her show me some moves!

These talented young ladies will be performing on the ensemble recital as part of the Utah Viola Society’s Viola Day 2014!!! These young viola rock stars are truly great musicians in the making, and I’m really happy that they will be joining us for Viola Day 2014!!! Don’t miss it!