solo viola & orchestra


In Limb the soloist is set apart from the main body of the orchestra (as is the norm) and could be perceived to be an ‘extra limb’ - separate but still connected, or as being ‘out on a limb’ - isolated and exposed. In the performance, rather than enjoying this separation and the focus of attention (as we anticipate a soloist would do), the violist, instead, strives to be fully integrated back into the orchestra (this idea hints at the stereotypical notion of the viola player lacking ego).

At the start of the piece the character of the solo part is strong and unrelenting, exhibiting determination and vigour, as well as anguish and despair at the (involuntary?) role of soloist but, as the piece progresses, the part becomes more and more absorbed into the orchestral texture until, at the climax (marked, ‘Monstrous, triumphant’), it is impossible to separate them, physically or au- rally. The assimilation is misleading, however, as once the massive tutti section subsides a fragile soloist is once again exposed, defeated and resigned, in a final section which is weary, dark and gloomy: an unsuccessful attempt at permanent integration.

First Performance


Sheffield Cathedral

Hallam Sinfonia & Maria Do Vale Antunes (solo viola)

Conductor: Natalia Luis Bassa

Commissioned by 

Hallam Sinfonia with funding from the British Viola Society, Classical Sheffield and Hallam Sinfonia for performance at the Classical Weekend festival 2019 finale concert, 'Ode to Joy', which included Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Score & Parts

Buy score & parts (.pdf digital download) directly: (email: £55

Paper score & parts are available to hire from Hallam Sinfonia (contact £30 incl. p&p

Duration 10 minutes

Please let me know if you intend to perform one of my pieces: I would love to hear about it!