90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
History Of The Viola

We’ll hear a thousand years of rich, deep music and history. The history of the viola.

Garth Knox on the Medieval Fiddle (Dániel Vass / ECM Records)

Garth Knox on the Medieval Fiddle (Dániel Vass / ECM Records)

In the world of stringed instruments, the humble viola takes some hard knocks.  It’s not the virtuoso’s violin.  Not the soulful cello.  It’s in between.  A little gawky.  Earthy.  Hard to get just right.  “What is the range of a viola?” goes the old joke.  “As far as you can kick it.”

But the viola hangs in.  The “middle voice.”  It was there in medieval days, with praise and visions.  Dance.  And it’s there now, with a new sound.

This hour, On Point:  A thousand years of the earthy “middle voice” – the viola.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Garth Knox, a prize-winning violist and composer. His new collection of works is: “Salterello.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Guardian “The viola is emerging from the shadows: Garth Knox’s utterly original recital combines its dusky tones in new music – by Kaija Saariaho (with electronics) and Knox himself (a flash of moody Piazzolla) – with music for the larger viola d’amore and medieval fiddle.”

NPR “A lot of babies were thrown out with the bath water,” he says in an interview with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel. “And I thought the viola d’amore was a particularly big baby that had been thrown away by mistake. I and others are trying to bring it back and show just how beautiful it can be.”

VIOLA JOKES: How do you keep your violin from getting stolen? Put it in a viola case. Check out more viola jokes here and post your favorites in the comments section here.

Video

Viola Spaces no 6 – Harmonic horizon – Garth Knox

Video

Kaija Saariaho’s “Vent nocturne,” for viola and electronics – performed by Garth Knox

Playlist

Salterello #1 (14th Century Traditional)
Viola Spaces Movement #4, “Rapid Repeat” (2009 Garth Knox)
Ave, generosa (12th Century Hildegard von Bingen)
Pipe, Harp, and Fiddle (Traditional)
Music for a While (1692 Henry Purcell)
Concerto for viola d’amore in D minor, #1 (18th Century Antonio Vivaldi)
Black Brittany (early 19th Century Traditional)
Flow my Tears (16th Cenutry John Dowland)
Viola Spaces, #8 “Up, Down, Sideways, Round” (2009 Garth Knox)
Vent nocturne #2 (2007 Kaija Saariaho)
Fuga libre (2009 Garth Knox)
Salterello #2 (14th Century Traditional)

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 22, 2014
Health workers carry the body of a woman suspected of contracting the Ebola virus in Bomi county situated on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP)

We’ll go to Liberia, and hear from a pastor and a physician at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis.

Oct 22, 2014
Authors Nicholas Kristof and wife Sheryl WuDunn attend the premiere of "Meena" at the AMC Loews Theater on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in New York.

Author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says regular folks like us can change the world. He explains how. Plus: we remember the late, great Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 21, 2014
This undated image provided by Google, shows an early version of Google's prototype self-driving car. For the first time, California's Department of Motor Vehicles knows how many self-driving cars are traveling on the state's public roads. The agency is issuing permits, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 that let three companies test 29 vehicles on highways and in neighborhoods. (AP)

The future of the car: from the fuels they’ll run on, to the materials they’ll be made of, to the computers that may drive them.

 
Oct 21, 2014
David Perdue, Michelle Nunn

Two weeks to go till Midterm Election Day. We’ll look at how the biggest issues are playing out around the country.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Introducing The Explicast: A New Podcast From On Point Radio
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Confused about the news? Don’t worry: so are we sometimes! Introducing a new On Point Radio podcast: The Explicast. You can find Episode One right here.

More »
1 Comment
 
Two LIVE Tracks From Jazz Violinist Regina Carter
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Regina Carter shares two live tracks — one arrangement, and one original composition — with Tom Ashbrook in the On Point studio.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 17, 2014
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

We talk Facebook mishaps, whether Katy Perry was actually right and the glory of architectural giants and their iconic windows.

More »
Comment