Tannis Gibson (left) and Hong-Mei Xiao
Tannis Gibson (left) and Hong-Mei Xiao

When violist Hong-Mei Xiao and pianist Tannis Gibson team up for a recital at Academy Village at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (April 8), the audience will hear a program of early 20th Century English music composed for the viola and played by two consummate musicians and faculty artists from the University of Arizona School of Music.

Although written more than eighty years ago, two of the works are so rarely played they may be new to many listeners.

A highlight of the recital will be William Walton’s “Viola Concerto,” composed in 1929.  “It is the very center of the viola repertoire,” Xiao explained in a recent telephone conversation.  “The 1961 revision of the work is more often played, but I want people to know the original score because it is more dynamic and tonally richer.”

The program will also include Arnold Bax’s “Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra,” an “intensely lyrical” piece, Xiao said.  “The slow movement is based on an Irish folk song about a girl with brown hair.”

Elements of English folk songs appear in the final piece, the virtuosic  “Suite for Viola and Orchestra” by Vaughn Williams.

In June, Xiao will travel to Hungary and record the program over the radio with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra for Naxos.  She was the first violist to record both the original and revised versions of the Bartok “Viola Concerto,” and her 2013 CD featuring the viola works of Ernest Bloch was named “Critics’ Choice” by American Record Guide.

A native of China, Xiao’s first mentor was her father, a noted violinist and composer.  She caught the attention of the music world when she won the prestigious Geneva International Music Competition and the Patek Philippe Grand Prize.

Canadian-born Tannis Gibson, a seasoned international performer, moves effortlessly between the roles of soloist, accompanist, and member of a chamber ensemble, winning critical acclaim. Classical Music, a London magazine, recently chose her recording of “Song of the Birds” with cellist Nancy Green as “CD of the Fortnight.” The Monticello Trio’s CD of Nicholas Maw’s “Piano Trio,” with Gibson as pianist, was nominated for a Gramophone Award.

Submitted by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer

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Viola/Piano Recital Features Hong-Mei Xiao,Tannis Gibson:April 2-14
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