Interview with Peter Minkler
by Susan Pearl
This Saturday, February 9, 2013 - 8:00pm
Prince George’s Community College, Largo, MD
Charles Ellis, conductor – Peter Minkler, viola
Urquiaga New Work TBA
Bruch Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Maj. Op. 85
Enesco Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A Major, Op.11
Berlioz Harold in Italy, Op.16
Quarter Notes: Thank you so much, Mr. Minkler, for taking the time to talk to us today. We are very much looking forward to performing not one, but two wonderful pieces written specifically for viola. Could we start with a little about your training and your current career?
Peter Minkler: I began my studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Robert Vernon, and continued my studies at the Eastman School of Music with Francis Tursi. I have been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1984.
QN: We understand that you are active with the BSO Summer Academy and the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra. So we’re especially pleased that you will be with us this February for our annual side-by-side concert, at which talented high school musicians join our Philharmonic in one of the concert selections.
PM: Yes, I maintain a private studio for teaching viola students, and also enjoy coaching adult players at the BSO Summer Academy. The Academy is a wonderful opportunity for adults who have enjoyed playing in an orchestra but have gone into other professions. We have a week-long summer session which these amateur musicians attend, and perform a concert with the BSO.
QN: And tell us about your connection with our Prince George’s Philharmonic. This is the first time that we’ve had you as a soloist.
PM: I’ve known Maestro Ellis for over 20 years, but have never worked with him and his orchestra, so I am delighted that he invited me to play with the Philharmonic. And I am particularly happy that he is a “viola-friendly” music director! It is not often that any orchestra schedules two viola soloists within just a few years.
QN: That’s right, we had another viola soloist exactly two years ago, and we are delighted to have you for this concert, and especially for Berlioz’ Harold in Italy! What a fabulous piece of music! Is it a favorite of yours?
PM: I have played this work before as a member of the orchestra, but this will be the first time I’ll have the opportunity to perform the solo viola part in concert. It is indeed an outstanding piece, and one of the first major works that was written specifically for the viola voice. In a sense, the piece is a narration of Berlioz’ own travels in Italy in the 1830s after he won the Prix de Rome, and the viola serves as the chronicler of this musical story. It will be exciting to play it!
I’m happy also to be playing another smaller piece, the Romance by Bruch, which is a favorite of mine. It was originally written for viola and orchestra - another fairly rare example of this combination. Although I’ve presented it before in concert, the accompaniment was always with piano transcription, so I’m very happy to be playing it now with full orchestra as it was originally written.
And what a wonderful program Maestro Ellis has put together! Even the Enesco Rhapsody, which you will be playing with the side-by-side students, has a viola solo, which I hope the audience will be primed to notice.
QN: This concert will indeed be a night of Viola Celebration! Thank you so much; we are really looking forward to performing with you on February 9th!
published with permission
Prince George's Philharmonic