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Cello Concerto


 for Violoncello and Orchestra

October 22, 2015—January 25, 2016

Duration: about 27 minutes


for Bonnie Thron and Grant Llewellyn

Full Score, PDF        Cover   

Solo Cello part         Orchestral parts 

Chamber version for Cello and Two Pianos

   Chamber score      Cover 

Arranged for Cello and Piano

       Score       Cover 

Orchestral premiere performance recording by Bonnie Thron and the East Carolina University Symphony Orchestra, Jorge Richter, conductor, March 17, 2018.
Recorded by Adam Scott Neal
Video (YouTube)

Wav file entire piece (CD quality)

I. Over the Stone (Tros y Garreg)    MP3 recording    WAV file (CD quality)

Adagio; Cyflym; Adagio; Cyflym; 

Cymadrol; Ychydig yn gyflymach        [10:19]


II. Heart Song             Largo            [8:55]     MP3 recording     WAV file

III. Contradanza          Fidelio         [2:07]       MP3 recording    WAV file

IV. Schlimmbesserung           Vivace  [8:18]       MP3 recording     WAV file

Chamber version for Cello and Two Pianos

          Chamber score

MP3 Recordings of Movements I and III by Bonnie Thron, cello; Nancy Whelan and David Heid, pianos. Movements II and IV are from the premiere (see below).

Videos are of the premiere performance by Bonnie Thron, cello; David Heid, Deborah Lee Hollis, pianos, Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University, September 18, 2016 (CVNC review)

Video and audio recorded by Rick Nelson

I. Over the Stone (Tros y Garreg)    MP3 recording    Video     [9:33]   

II. Heart Song                        [7:54]     MP3 recording    Video  

III. Contradanza                 [2:07]       MP3 recording   

IV. Schlimmbesserung             [7:18]       MP3 recording (Mov. 4)  Video  (Mov. 3 & 4)

       I have had the pleasure of making music with Principal Cellist of the NC Symphony Bonnie  Thron and her husband clarinetist Fred Jacobowitz since 2008. She spoke with Grant Llewellyn, music director of the orchestra, in April 2015 about writing something for her as a soloist. Grant then asked me to come up with a piece. After finishing other projects,  I got to work on this concerto, after asking Grant for Welsh themes; one of his suggestions is the basis for the first movement.

Bonnie ThronThe theme for the first movement is the traditional Welsh song “Tros y Garreg”, or “Over the Stone”. The song is attributed to Rhys Bodychen, who fought at the Battle of Bosworth Field on the side of the Tutors against Richard III in 1485. The lyrics reflect on those who have fallen in battle. This melody has been altered from the original by George Thompson, who published Welsh airs in 1809, 1811, and 1817. I prefer his version for this purpose to the original. Note that the end of the melody resembles the theme from the last movement of J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, which factors into my treatment. Also, the traditional harp music of Wales led me to have an important harp part throughout this concerto. 

    I made a point of using particularly incomprehensible, unspellable, and unpronounceable Welsh words for tempo markings in the first movement. Cyflym means “fast”; Cymedrol means “moderate”; Ychydig yn gflymach means “a little faster.”

       The very short third movement started life back about 1990 as the second movement of my Fourth Sonata for Solo Violin. (There are a total of ten such sonatas.) Until recently I thought it was a tango, as I am easily bored with details in music theory and sometimes don’t look things up. In fact it is a contradanza, a dance form originating in Havana--hence the tempo marking “Fidelio”. The solo cello part can be performed by itself in a pinch. The instrumentation in the third movement is the same as the rest of the piece, except that it lacks the second trumpet.

The fourth movement is titled Schlimmbesserung, which is German for “an effort to make things better that ends up making things worse”.

Bonnie Thron performed the orchestral premiere on March 17, 2018, with the ECU Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jorge Richter.


Performance notes

       Instrumentation: two flutes (first flute doubles piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, harp, solo cello, and strings.

       As the harp has a prominent part, it should be located in proximity to the soloist, not in the back as usual.


Cover art: frontispiece from Musical and poetical relicks of the Welsh bards 

by Edward Jones, 1784.