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Out of the 'Engine Rooms'

The late Nineteenth Century saw the emergence of the viola from the ‘engine room’ of the orchestra to a solo instrument in its own right, due to champions such as English violist Lionel Tertis. The viola’s rising status paved the way for collaborations between violists and composers, resulting in an expansion of a relatively limited repertoire and placing higher demands on the performer. Through theoretical and practical based research, I identify the roles and responsibilities of the classical violist when collaborating with living composers. At the centre of my practical investigations were collaborations with four composers in the realisation of new works and exploration of pre-existing works by three composers, as part of a cross-departmental/cross-cultural collaboration. These collaborations highlight the importance of a high level of musicianship and an ability to communicate with and without the instrument. Artistic and intellectual exchange through open communication results in mutually beneficial outcomes and a deeper connection with the music. Additionally, these collaborations reveal that the viola is still emerging as a solo instrument, needing further experimentation and exploration. The final aspect of my research is the curation of a lecture-recital series showcasing these new compositions, anchored with works from the standard and lesser-known repertoire. The future aim is to perform and record these new works in order to reach a wider audience. Successful collaborations contribute to the generation, promotion, and contribution to the classical viola repertoire and the status of the instrument itself now and into the future. Bio Michelle Pritchard is an Australian violist, violinist and pedagogue, studying her Master in Classical Music (Viola) with Ásdís Valdímarsdottír at The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. In Australia, Michelle studied with Alex Todicescu, Sydney Conservatorium. Later with Jeremy Williams, obtaining an Associate of Music Diploma with Distinction, and a Graduate Diploma of Professional Music Performance Practice through the University of Tasmania. Specialising in chamber music, Michelle established a concert series in Sydney. She has toured Europe as recitalist and as a member of the Hourglass Ensemble. Additionally, she founded ‘Eisteddfod on the Mountain’ in the regional area north of Sydney

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