Borletti-Buitoni Trust
08 October 2009

Olga Neuwirth and me: serving and discovering

by Antoine Tamestit

Four years ago exactly to this day, I wrote that famous letter of motivation to the Borletti Buitoni Trust, to express all my wishes and wildest musical dreams, including a major piece commissioned to a composer. And here we are today: I am on my way to Vienna, to rehearse for the first time the Concerto that Olga Neuwirth has written for me. An amazing feeling, which started a few weeks ago when I put my fingers and my bow for the first time ever “on” the piece. A wonderful, inspiring step for me, and hopefully, an important addition to the Viola repertoire and to music.

It is so interesting to discover a piece. First of all the Viola part itself, which has so many different playing modes, from the sweetest, most lyrical passages, to the wildest, most extreme ones in speed and dynamics. Second of all the whole score, which, as much as I look at it and study it, will only come to life this evening, at the first reading with the RSO Wien and Peter Eötvös the conductor. Reading and hearing I should say, as many things will unveil themselves when I hear the different instrument colours, when I understand the subtle interactions between my voice and the whole orchestra.

I have heard Olga Neuwirth’s music but I can’t really say that I really know it. What I mean is, I am really discovering it, and going to discover it in the next days. I of course have a lot of inspiration, and most of all, my phone conversations with Olga and the many letters we exchanged. She, on her side, only heard my playing in CDs, and yet, despite all this, I feel a connection to her and her music, as I did the first time I heard one of her pieces. A kind of natural understanding of what she is expressing, like in the slow 4th movement, where she, as she says, mixes Schubert lieder and yiddish folk songs…

So here I am: on the verge of discovering new sounds, new colours, new feelings, and most of all, serving the creation of such an artist as Olga Neuwirth.

Olga Neuwirth Viola Concerto “Remnants of Song…An Amphigory” World Premiere on 10th October 2009 with Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra at Musikprotokoll Graz.  Further performances on 20th November at the Wien Modern Festival and 31st January 2010 with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Alejo Pérez. Co-commissioned for Antoine Tamestit by Borletti-Buitoni Trust with ORF, Musikprotokoll Graz, Wien Modern, DSO Berlin and Betty Freeman.

Antoine Tamestit on video on BBT website