Enjoy our interview with composer Roupen Shakarian

We were thrilled to be able to learn from the composer himself about his violin concerto. NOCCO will perform this concerto, featuring Victoria Parker at our concerts Oct 21 & 22

What sets this piece (Violin Concerto) apart from your other works?

This is the only piece that I’ve borrowed or recomposed from a previous work of mine, and that being an Elegy for solo violin. I had felt that it lent naturally to a larger format. Structurally, it became the second movement of the concerto and served as the impetus for the outer movements. It also formed the overall character of the piece with the Prelude setting the stage for the Elegy with the following Allegro releasing the moods of the Elegy.

Composer Roupen Shakarian

This piece is also one that resulted from an historical observation. I had been thinking about the trends in concertos written afterBeethoven’s masterful violin concerto. Since then, concertos through the Romantic period, and to the present, developed in length, virtuosity and content, displaying all sorts of technical brilliance and bravura. But I wonderedabout the Mozartian model, if it became a forgotten aesthetic; seemingly simpler melodic solo parts, smaller orchestras, thinner textures, and less emphasis on virtuosic displays. Combining both Classical and Romantic features appealed to me and served the basis of the concerto.

Did you have a particular violin soloist in mind when you were composing this concerto? If so, what aspects of his/her playing did you consider and how did you work those into the composition?

In 2006 I went to Tori Parker and let her know I wanted to write a concerto for her. She was then the concertmaster of Philharmonia Northwest and I the music director of the chamber orchestra. Her musical, technical qualities and her ability to express a variety of moods provided me the right framework in working out the details of composing the piece. Hearing her play some of the sketches also assured me of her ability to immediately absorb the character of the piece. 

Do you think you piece is well suited for a conductor-less ensemble? What, in your opinion, makes this upcoming performance special?

The concerto is written for double winds, timpani and strings. The writing is deliberately like a chamber ensemble. Though in most performances a conductor will be the norm, this performance with the North Corner Chamber Orchestra will bring out the inherent chamber music quality of the work and the concerto’s poignant moods.