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Augusta Read Thomas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Spirit Musings — Violin Concerto (1997)
G Schirmer Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
10 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Alternate Orchestration
1121/1100/perc/hp/str (
Programme Note
Augusta Read Thomas Spirit Musings — Violin Concerto (1997)
Digital perusal score available from SchirmerOnDemand
Composer's Note:

My favorite moment in any piece of music is that of maximum risk and striving. Whether the venture is tiny or large, loud or soft, fragile or strong, passionate, erratic, or eccentric — the moment of exquisite humanity and raw soul! All art that I cherish has elements of order, mystery, love, recklessness, and desperation. For me, music must be alive and jump off the page and out of the instrument as if something big is at stake. I think of my music as nuanced lyricism under pressure.

This artistic credo leads me to examine small musical objects (a chord, a motive, a rhythm, a color) and explore them from many perspectives. These different perspectives reveal new musical potentials thus developing the musical discourse. In this manner, and in Spirit Musings in particular, my music takes on an organic, circular, self-referential character, which, at the same time, has a forward progression. As I write, I often feel that the emerging piece is the articulated search for the piece... (like it's hungry and has to play itself out in order to satisfy itself). The transformative nature of my musical progressions — through temporal, harmonic, textural, registral, and timbral spaces — attempt to imbue my pieces with an irrepressible sense of color, motion and rapture. I am madly in love with music and I want that energy to come across in my music. Spirit Musings was selected by Tanglewood as one of the 15 best works that was performed during the first 10 years of Seiji Ozawa Hall and as a result is on the Ozawa Hall Celebration CD.

— Augusta Read Thomas

  • Ensemble
    Cleveland Chamber Symphony
    Laura Russell (Violin)
    Edwin London
    Albany Records:
  • Nimbus Alliance:
The opening work on this program, Spirit Musings (1997), for violin and large chamber ensemble, is an ecstatic 10-minute score. As the instruments dart and shimmer with intensity, the violin skirts above the fray, abuzz with zigzagging thematic lines that provoke responses from the ensemble. The violinist Courtney Orlando played the demanding solo part with tireless energy and bright tone.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,09/04/2005
Thomas' Spirit Musings made a strong impression in its Chicago premiere. A chamber concerto for violin and 15 instruments, it draws much of its power from her instincts as a colorist. Her imagination seems fired by a quasi-French obsession with color....But her voice remains distinct and personal.
Michael Cameron, Chicago Tribune,01/01/0001
Augusta Read Thomas's Spirit Musings is exploratory and rewarding. All music moves sequentially through time, but each movement of this piece seems entirely and simultaneously present while the composer leads the listener's ear around and over it...the whole piece is like a silver globe struck by the sun.
Richard Dyer, Boston Globe,01/01/0001
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