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Incantation (1995)

For solo violin
[Also a version for solo viola]
[Also a version for solo cello]

Commissioned and premiered by Catherine Tait in Rochester, NY in 1995
Viola version was premiered by Colin Belisle on 18 June 2006, at the New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
Cello version was premiered by Mihai Marica on 6 December 2016, at the Harris Theater in Chicago.
Duration: 5 minutes

Version for solo violin


Version for solo viola


Version for solo cello


BUY SCORE (for solo viola)
BUY SCORE (for solo violin)
BUY SCORE (for solo cello)

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Clarissa Bevilacqua plays Augusta Read Thomas


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Blooming Sounds: Works for Unaccompanied Violin

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Blooming Sounds: Works for Unaccompanied Violin

Going Solo: Unaccompanied Works for Violin & Viola

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Going Solo: Unaccompanied Works for Violin & Viola


Ella Wimbiscus (age 11) plays Incantation for solo cello

Program Note

Incantation for solo violin, composed in 1995, is one of the earliest works by Augusta Read Thomas which has not been withdrawn by the composer. It also represents a snap shot into Augusta's long love affair with the strings, and the violin in particular, an instrument for which she has composed many works (some withdrawn, others published by G. Schirmer) including: Spirit Musings for solo violin and chamber orchestra, and Rumi Settings for violin and cello.

Incantation was composed for Cathryn Tait, who, at the time, was dying of cancer. Cathryn presented the premiere performance, beautifully, a few weeks before her death, in a very touching recital.

The short, 5-minute, work celebrates Cathryn's generosity of spirit. The music sings out, with beauty and grace, always with a richness and elegance. The work falls loosely into an ABA from, ending as it were, on a question, with a major seventh hanging in the air, unresolved.

Selected Reviews

Carol Rodland

"It has been my great joy and honor to work closely with the eminent composer Augusta Read Thomas on a number of arrangements of her works for solo viola, which I have performed often in recitals and have also recorded for Crystal Records. Gusty’s music is deeply meaningful to me and continually presents me with unique and growth-inducing challenges. She likes these pieces to sound like “captured improvisations”. (her words) In her scores, she provides vivid and very specific instructions for almost every note! I love how I am pushed to experiment with myriad colors and techniques in pursuit of all of this expressive content. My preparatory process includes talking, singing, scatting, and conducting, before I even let myself try anything on the viola. I also always engage in some serious metronome work on my way to trying to internalize her highly notated sections of rubato. I need to figure it all out and be as precise as possible in the learning of this repertoire before I can feel free to play it as the “captured improvisation” she stipulates. Most of our collaborative work has happened over Skype, since we don’t manage to be in the same city very often!"

Laurence Vittes, Gramophone

"Augusta Read Thomas's two solo viola pieces, PULSAR and INCANTATION, operate on a mesmerizing plane anchored in a Bachian sense of line and structure, and bombarded with echoes and reflections."

Ithaca Journal

"Incantation" for solo violin (1995), written as a lament to a dear friend, asks the listener to discover a balance between pain and peaceful resignation with yearning."

To obtain examination or performance material for any of
Augusta Read Thomas's works, please contact G. Schirmer Inc..