Programme Note

1 Morrigan –
2 Aphrodite –
3 Diana

My Viola Concerto was commissioned by the Presteigne Festival, with funds from the Colwinston Charitable Trust.  Its second movement is partly based on ‘Goddess’, an earlier string orchestra work of mine composed in 2009, which has a prominent part for solo viola.  The Concerto is cast in three movements, played without a break, each being named after a different mythical Goddess.

Morrigan (Celtic), Warrior Queen, but also ‘earth mother’
Aphrodite (Greek), Goddess of sexual love and beauty
Diana (Roman), Goddess of the hunt, wild animals, and the moon

The music reflects the diverse ‘personalities’ of each Goddess – in turn compulsive, threatening, enigmatic, sensual and energetic, with the viola displaying its many and varied instrumental colours, often in virtuoso terms.

The concerto is bound together (both melodically and harmonically) by the angular theme heard at the outset, announced by solo viola, and by the three ‘responding’ major chords heard in the accompanying string orchestra which reappear throughout the work in varied form.

Edward Gregson



Soloist Rachel Roberts joined the performers for the premiere of Edward Gregson’s Viola Concerto Three Goddesses a festival commission. This substantial concertante piece was in three movements, each named after a different mythical Goddess. The first, Morrigan began pensively with a slow introduction that presented the concerto’s principal material: a jagged figure first heard on the viola and three answering, richly sonorous string chords. This opening movement’s main section was fast and tautly rhythmic, with a sense of foreboding. Following without a break, the central movement, Aphrodite’was veiled and sultry, with intense contributions from the soloist, while the finale, Diana bristled with pent-up energy. Rachel Roberts conveyed the shifting moods intuitively, negotiating the score’s more challenging aspects with aplomb and expertly delineating each movement’s individual character. George Vass and the Festival Orchestra provided ideal support and special mention must be made of the leader, Sophie Mather, whose sparkling interplay with the soloist in the closing movement showed a chamber-like rapport. Edward Gregson’s latest concerto is a major contribution to the repertoire, affording idiomatic, effective string writing and heartening the listener with the fluency and concision of its ideas.

Paul Conway, Musical Opinion (Autumn 2023)

Written: 2023

solo viola; string orchestra

Genre: Orchestral

Publisher: Novello

Duration: 20'

First Performance: 26 August 2023
St Andrew's Church, Presteigne, UK
Presteigne Festival Orchestra, Rachel Roberts (viola), George Vass (conductor)