UGA School of Music faculty recital explores classic, modern viola repertoire

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UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music faculty members revisit and expand their personal repertoire when Maggie Snyder, associate professor of viola, joins Liza Stepanova, assistant professor of piano, in Ramsey Concert Hall on Tuesday, March 15, at 8 p.m.

The faculty recital will feature works from Arvo Pärt, Stephen Paulus, Edmund Rubbra and Robert Schumann. The original theme for the recital, Snyder says, was “Modern American Viola Music,” the title of her most recent album, but when the opportunity to play with Stepanova presented itself, things shifted.

“[Stepanova] brought the idea of playing the Schumann, which I’ve taught for years but never performed,” said Snyder. “This piece is one of the most standard works in the canon of our literature by such a titan of a composer. 

‘Märchenbilder,’ or ‘Fairy Tales,’ as a work is innocent, melancholy, triumphant, whimsical, brash, and considerably moody.  I am loving getting to know it even better than I already did.”

The Rubbra is a piece Snyder describes as a “technical showcase for the instrument.” Made of variations based on a medieval Byzantine hymn (“O Quando in Cruce”), Snyder has played it for roughly three years and plans to include it on her next album.

“This piece for solo viola is so moving,” said Snyder. “It goes through so many different mutations: some remind me of influences from renaissance dance music, to courtly trumpeted festival music, to variations of chant, all while using so many sound possibilities on the instrument.”

Another piece for which Snyder has designs is “Fratres” by Pärt. Introduced to her by one of her students, the work, which was arranged in 2003 and based on the 1977 original, made an immediate impact.

“I immediately fell in love with the piece, and I plan for it to become a staple of my personal repertoire,” said Snyder.

The final composition is already a staple of Snyder’s repertoire: Stephen Paulus’s “Seven for the Flowers Near the River,” which Snyder discovered while researching repertoire for “Modern American Viola Music.”

“I wanted something that was a serious work which could be one of the pillars of the CD, and that’s what I got and more with this work,” said Snyder.

The Paulus work comprises seven movements that, according to Snyder, are named to convey a mood more than dictate a scene. The work as a whole is inspired by a poem of the same name by the Tang dynasty-era Chinese poet, Du Fu.

The public is invited to attend this special, admission-free faculty recital.

The UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music sponsors more than 350 performances each year. To view the performance calendar, subscribe to the weekly email concert listing or learn more about the School of Music, go to music.uga.edu.