• Joan Tower
  • Purple Rain (2020)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 2vn, 2va, vc
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Composer note
Purple Rain was commissioned by the Boston Chamber Music Society and was premiered on February 13, 2022 in Boston.

When Marcus Thompson, artistic director of the BCMS and a violist, called me to talk about a commission, I immediately said that I would love to write a string quintet with two violas. I have gotten to know and love the viola after writing three solos and a concerto for the wonderful violist Paul Neubauer. Why not “enhance” the presence of the viola in a string quartet by adding another one, I thought.

The titles of my viola pieces have included the word “purple.” This is the color — in all its various hues — that most reminds me of the viola. In this quintet, “rain” symbolizes many things: a steady repetition of light and heavy rhythms, flows of “held” singing (particularly in the viola duets), and a kind of rapid “cascading/rolling” in rivulets of sixteenth notes.

— Joan Tower


Boston Chamber Music Society premiere