First Things First
first things first is my first solo album, on New Amsterdam Records, which I released in 2009. In a way, it’s chapter 1 of my solo viola commissioning project; this album is a sort of synthesis of all of these projects and friendships that started in my early twenties. The first piece I ever really commissioned is the first track on this album: Duet No. 1, Chorale Pointing Downwards by Nico. The process of editing and refining this piece (which was originally almost unplayably awkward) was surprisingly wonderful, and I discovered that this type of work was literally my favorite thing.
The music on this album is the result of my collaborations with three fantastic composers, Nico Muhly, Marcos Balter, and Judd Greenstein. Nico I met at school, and Judd and Marcos were both fellows at the Tanglewood Music Center with me, an unspeakably idyllic music festival in the Berkshires.
These guys are wonderful collaborators as well as wonderful friends, and these pieces (most of which were commissioned over a bourbon or two) represent some really lovely collaborations.
The one piece on this album that I did not commission is the last track, The Night Gatherers by Judd. It was commissioned by another Tanglewood friend of ours as a memorial to her grandmother. When I was putting this album together, I thought it would not only contribute beautifully to the arc of the record, but also give me the opportunity to work with my brother, a fantastic violist, and his ensemble, the wonderful Chiara Quartet.
All of these personal connections make this record really special for me, but more importantly, the music on this record is really good; all three of these guys have really strong, individual voices, but I think their music speaks well together. Their music is innovative, and yet feels timely and inevitable. I am so pleased to interpret these guys’ work, and I am thrilled to release this first record.