Melia Watras

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Melia Watras
GenresClassical
Occupation(s)Violist, composer, professor
InstrumentsViola
Websitehttp://www.meliawatras.com

Melia Watras is a prominent American violist, composer and professor of viola. She is a soloist, chamber musician and recording artist, who has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous new compositions, and appeared at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall and Alice Tully Hall. Her compositions have been performed in the United States and Europe. Educated at Indiana University and the Juilliard School, Watras has been on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle since 2004.[1]

Education[edit]

Watras attended Indiana University, where she studied with Abraham Skernick and Atar Arad, earning bachelor's and master's degrees and the prestigious Performer's Certificate. While at Indiana, she served as Arad's teaching assistant. She studied chamber music at the Juilliard School, while also teaching as an assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet.[2]

Career[edit]

Performing and recording artist[edit]

As a recording artist, Watras has garnered considerable attention and praise from the media. Her solo CDs have been recognized by publications such as Gramophone (which hailed her as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality”), The Strad, ("staggeringly virtuosic") and Strings (“Watras is a young player in possession of stunning virtuosic talent and deserving of the growing acclaim”). She has been heard on numerous radio programs, including NPR's All Things Considered and Performance Today, and a live performance for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.[3]

Composers that have written solo viola works especially for Watras include: Charles Corey, Brent Michael Davids, Joël-François Durand, Orlando Jacinta García, Richard Karpen, Garth Knox, Shih-Wei Lo, Juan Pampin, Joshua Parmenter, Shulamit Ran, Kathryn Sullivan, Heinrich Taube, Diane Thome, Cuong Vu, Andrew Waggoner, Anna Weesner and Frances White.[3] As a soloist and chamber musician, Watras has given world premieres of works by Atar Arad, Charles Corey, John Corigliano, Brent Michael Davids, Tina Davidson, Alexander De Varon, Joël-François Durand, Orlando Jacinta García, Jesse Jones, Richard Karpen, Garth Knox, Michael Jinsoo Lim, Shih-Wei Lo, Patrick Long, Eric Maestri, Anthony Moore, Jeffrey Mumford, Ichiro Nodaira, Juan Pampin, Joshua Parmenter, Robert Pound, Shulamit Ran, Adam Silverman, Kathryn Sullivan, Sir John Taverner, Heinrich Taube, Diane Thome, Dan Visconti, Cuong Vu, Andrew Waggoner, Melia Watras, Anna Weesner, Frances White, Theodore Wiprud, Tamar Witkin and Mischa Zupko.

Watras is violist of the Seattle-based ensemble, Frequency, for whom she has composed, and a member of Open End, with whom she has performed in France, Denmark and the United States and recorded for Albany Records.[4][5] For twenty years, Watras concertized worldwide and recorded extensively as violist of the renowned Corigliano Quartet, which she co-founded. The ensemble's album on the Naxos label was honored as one of the Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New Yorker.[6] Other chamber music explorations include improvising in concert with jazz innovators Cuong Vu and Ted Poor. She and Vu premiered and recorded a work of his for viola and trumpet.

Composer[edit]

Watras's compositions have been performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Bloomington (IN), Denmark and Spain, by artists such as Atar Arad (viola), Galia Arad (voice), Avalon String Quartet, Winston Choi (piano), Catherine Connors (voice), Manuel Guillén (violin), Yura Lee (violin), Rachel Lee Priday (violin),Michael Jinsoo Lim (violin), Tawnya Popoff (viola), Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir (cello), Cristina Valdés (piano) and Vina Vu Valdés (voice). Her music has been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and can be found on her albums Schumann Resonances and 26.[7] Watras's adaptation of John Corigliano's Fancy on a Bach Air for viola is published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and can be heard on her Viola Solo album.

Professor[edit]

Watras serves as Professor of Viola at the University of Washington, where she holds the Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship,[8] was awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship and the Royalty Research Fund and has served as chair of Strings. Watras has given viola and chamber music classes throughout the United States and abroad, at schools such as Indiana University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), and Chosun University (South Korea). She has returned on a number of occasions to her alma mater, Indiana, to teach as a guest professor.

Discography[edit]

Solo recordings[edit]

Atar Arad: Caprice Four (George) for viola solo (2003) (CD SLE 70002)
Atar Arad: Sonata for Viola Solo (1992) (CD FDS 57962)
J.S. Bach/Kodály: Chromatic Fantasy (CD FDS 57962)
Luciano Berio: Naturale for solo viola, percussion and recorded voice (19850; with Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion (CD SLE 70002)
Rebecca Clarke: Passacaglia on an Old English Tune for viola and piano; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)
John Corigliano (arr. Watras): Fancy on a Bach Air (1997) for solo viola* (CD FDS 57962)
Brent Michael Davids: Viola Jokes for viola and tenor (2005)*; with William George, tenor (CD FDS 57992)
Georges Enescu: Concert Piece for viola and piano; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)
Betsy Jolas: Episode sixième for viola solo (1984)* (CD FDS 58007)
Richard, Karpen: Aperture for amplified viola and interactive electronics (2006)* (CD FDS 57992)
György Ligeti: Loop (1994) from Sonata for viola solo (CD FDS 58007)
Juan Pampin: Nada for viola and live electronics (2006)* (CD FDS 57992)
Krzystof Penderecki: Cadenza per Viola Solo (CD FDS 57962)
Quincy Porter: Speed Etude for viola and piano (CD FDS 58007)
Paola Prestini: Sympathique* (CD FDS 57962)
Shulamit Ran: Perfect Storm for viola solo (2010)* (CD SLE 70002)
Igor Stravinsky: Elégie (CD FDS 57962)
Heinrich Taube: Tacoma Narrows for viola and tape (2006)* (CD FDS 57992)
Diane Thome: And Yet... for viola and computer realized sound (2006)* (CD FDS 57992)
Henri Vieuxtemps: Elégie for viola and piano, Op. 30; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)
Dan Visconti: Hard-Knock Stomp for viola solo (2000)* (CD FDS 58007)
Andrew Waggoner: Collines parmi étoiles... (2003)* (CD FDS 57962)
Andrew Waggoner: Elle s’enfuit for viola and piano (2008)*; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)
Melia Watras: Sonata for viola solo (2012)* (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Photo by Mikel for viola solo (2012)* (CD SLE 70007)
Anna Weesner: Flexible Parts for viola and piano (2008)*; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)
Henryk Wieniawski: Rêverie for viola and piano; with Kimberly Russ, piano (CD FDS 58007)

Chamber music recordings (selected)[edit]

Atar Arad: Esther for two violas (2008)*; Atar Arad and Melia Watras, violas (CD SLE 70007)
Atar Arad: Toccatina a la Turk for two violas (2008)*; Atar Arad and Melia Watras, violas (CD SLE 70007)
Luciano Berio: Black is the color... (from Folk Songs) for mezzo-soprano, viola and harp; Galia Arad, voice; Melia Watras viola; Valerie Muzzolini-Gordon, harp (CD SLE 70002)
Richard Karpen: Bicinium for violin and viola (2014)*; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola (CD SLE 70007)
Richard Karpen: Tertium Quid for violin, viola and piano (2015)*; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola; Winston Choi, piano (CD PMR 001)
Garth Knox: Stranger for viola and viola d’amore (2014)*; Melia Watras, viola; Garth Knox, viola d’amore (CD SLE 70007)
George Rochberg: Sonata for viola and piano (1979); Melia Watras, viola; Winston Choi, piano (CD SLE 70002)
Robert Schumann: Märchenbilder (Pictures from Fairyland) for viola and piano, Op. 113; Melia Watras, viola; Winston Choi, piano (CD PMR 001)
Cuong Vu: Porch Music viola and trumpet (2015)*; Melia Watras, viola; Cuong Vu, trumpet (CD PMR 001)
Melia Watras: Berceuse with a Singer in London for voice and viola (2015)*; Galia Arad, voice; Melia Watras, viola (CD PMR 001)
Melia Watras: Liquid Voices for violin and viola (2013)*; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Schumann Resonances for viola and piano (2015)*; Melia Watras, viola; Winston Choi, piano (CD PMR 001)
Melia Watras: Source for viola, percussion and violin (2015)*; Melia Watras, viola; Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin (CD PMR 001)

Recordings of music composed by Melia Watras[edit]

Melia Watras: Berceuse with a Singer in London for voice and viola (2015)*; Galia Arad, voice; Melia Watras, viola (CD PMR 001)
Melia Watras: Liquid Voices for violin and viola (2013)*; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Luminous Points for violin solo (2013)*; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Photo by Mikel for viola solo (2012)*; Melia Watras, viola (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Prelude for viola solo (2014)*; Atar Arad, viola (CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Schumann Resonances for viola and piano (2015)*; Melia Watras, viola; Winston Choi, piano (CD PMR 001)
Melia Watras: Sonata for viola solo (2012)*; Melia Watras, viola( CD SLE 70007)
Melia Watras: Source for viola, percussion and violin (2015)*; Melia Watras, viola; Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin (CD PMR 001)

* denotes world premiere recording

Compositions[edit]

Selected works by Melia Watras:

Solo[edit]

Violin:
Echo for violin solo (2020)
Cadenzas to Beethoven's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 61 for violin solo (2020)
Homage to Swan Lake for violin solo (2018)
Selvaggio for violin solo (2018)
Doppelgänger Dances for violin solo (2017)
Luminous Points for violin solo (2013)

Viola:
Black wing, brown wing for viola solo (2019)
Lament for viola solo (2016)
Prelude for viola solo (2014)
Sonata for viola solo (2012)
Ansioso for viola solo (2012)
Photo by Mikel for viola solo (2012)

Cello:
Vetur for cello solo (2016)
Prelude for cello solo (2014)

Piano:
Summer Songs for piano (2020)
Otra vex for piano (2020)

Voice:
Mozart Doesn't Live in Seattle for voice (2017)

Recorded Voice:
Seeing Cypresses with Catherine C. for recorded voice (2017)

Chamber music[edit]

Violin and viola:
Blue-violet for violin and viola (2019)
Dahlia for violin and viola (2019)
Lontano for violin and viola (2017)
Vetur öngum lánar lið for violin and viola (2017)
Wise Tentacles for violin and viola (2017)
Berceuse for violin and viola (2015)
Liquid Voices for violin and viola (2013)

Violin and cello:
Vetur öngum lánar lið for violin and cello (2017)
Wise Tentacles for violin and cello (2017)

Violin, viola and cello:
Kreutzer for violin, viola and cello (2016)

String Quartet:
Contemplation of Beethoven's Op. 18, No. 4 for string quartet (2020)

Two violas:
Blue-violet for two violas (2019)
Dahlia for two violas (2019)

Viola and piano:
Schumann Resonances for viola and piano (2015)

Viola, percussion and violin:
Source for viola, percussion and violin (2015)

Voice and violin:
O. Reverie for voice and violin (2018)
William Wilson for voice and violin (2016)

Voice and viola:
Viola for narrator and viola (2017)
Berceuse for a Singer in London for voice and viola (2015)

Voice(s) and cello:
Firefly for voices and cello (2018)
Vetur öngum lánar lið for voice and cello (2016)

Voice(s), viola and cello:
(one) for voice(s), viola and cello (2018)

Voices, viola, Harmonic Canon, Cloud-Chamber Bowls and Bass Marimba:
String Masks for voices, viola, Harmonic Canon, Cloud-Chamber Bowls and Bass Marimba (2017)

Recorded voice, violin and viola:
The Lesson for recorded voice, violin and viola(2017)

Various voices and instruments:
Firefly Songs for various voices and instruments (2015-2018)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wick, Nancy (October 14, 2004). "Duet with a computer is part of violist's debut". UW News. Retrieved 2021-01-02.
  2. ^ Melia Watras, University of Washington School of Music
  3. ^ a b Melia Watras, official website
  4. ^ Frequency Ensemble, official website
  5. ^ Open End Ensemble, official website
  6. ^ Corigliano Quartet, official website
  7. ^ Melia Watras, AllMusic
  8. ^ Authors, Various (5 February 2015). "Why I Play Chamber Music". Strings. Retrieved 4 September 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]