Viola goes solo at international music event

Keith Crellin, Head of Strings at the Elder Conservatorium, with Bachelor of Music (Performance) students and violists (from left) Cecile Ross, Thomas Giam and Elsbeth Falster.

Keith Crellin, Head of Strings at the Elder Conservatorium, with Bachelor of Music (Performance) students and violists (from left) Cecile Ross, Thomas Giam and Elsbeth Falster.
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Monday, 11 June 2007

The viola will step out from the rest of the orchestra this month when the 35th International Viola Congress is held at the University of Adelaide - the first time that this major musical event has been held in Australia.

Drawing viola players from around the world, the Viola Congress will be hosted by the University's Elder Conservatorium of Music from 29 June to 3 July.

The 35th Viola Congress is the brainchild of Keith Crellin, Head of Strings at the Elder Conservatorium and the founding violist in the original line-up of the Australian String Quartet.

Because of his extensive contacts with string players around the world, this event will see eminent musicians from many countries, including the Americas, Europe, the UK, South Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and New Zealand, take part in the five-day event.

The congress will include a large number of recitals and concerts as well as talks and masterclasses. The general public will be able to engage with the congress through the gala concerts in Elder Hall.

The University's music students also stand to gain greatly from the event, according to Keith Crellin.

"Our students will be able to hear in one place a number of highly talented, brilliant viola players from all around the world and from within Australia. They will hear remarkable performances. Whilst the viola is a wonderful instrument, it's not seen necessarily as a great solo instrument, so suddenly the students will be hearing the viola in its solo guise," Mr Crellin says.

"Students will also hear lectures on the history of the viola, the history of violists, on teaching, on ways of playing... so many aspects of the instrument that, whilst we try to give it to them here at the University, obviously getting it in a five-day intensive session is going to make a lot of difference to how they see their careers and how they see their playing," he says.

One of the groups performing in the gala opening concert (Elder Hall, 8pm Friday 29 June) will be the 12 players of Viola Viva!, otherwise known as the entire viola section of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. They will give the Australian premiere of a new work by Australian composer-violist Brett Dean (formerly with the Berlin Philharmonic).

The second gala concert (Elder Hall, 8pm Sunday 1 July) will include the first professional performance of Peter Sculthorpe's new Elegy for Viola and String Orchestra and the world première of a new viola concerto from the University's Elder Professor of Music, Charles Bodman Rae, which has been specially commissioned for the congress by the International Viola Society.

"The viola has far fewer concertos than the violin and tends to be overshadowed by its smaller sibling. It really deserves to be under the spotlight more often so that we can hear its amazing expressive range," Professor Bodman Rae says.

For tickets to the public concerts, reservations and enquiries can be made via email: or phone 0409 093 231. Adults $25, concession $15. You can also purchase tickets at the door. Visa and Mastercard available.

Full details of the program for the congress can be viewed at:

Please note: unfortunately, the print and PDF versions of the June 2007 Adelaidean contain incorrect information about ticket enquiries for the Viola Congress. The above details are correct. We apologise for any inconvenience.


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