Originally posted on 1/17/20 as 'Artist-in-Residence' for the American Viola Society:
Every civilization needs a history. Often the details of that (hi)story turn out not to be true, but that's not the point.
The point of this post is.... Cremonus! Cremonus, who hath given us the viola more than 500 years ago in northern Italy. Cremonus, who watcheth over us as we practice our scales and arpeggios, etudes and solo Bach, sonatas and concerti. Cremonus, who maintaineth a website: www.violacentrism.com, where thou canst read about the religion, cds, sheet music, gig books, gifts, artwork, and leave thy prayers.(He usually responds within 24 hours.)
It was several years ago, after a long night of practicing and Von Trapp Pilsners, that Cremonus revealed Himself. I had realized early on that playing an instrument was a bit like a religion. Daily practice. Weekly group meetings. Public presentations in formal clothing. But no one ever asked the existential question... who invented the viola? Surely there must have been a Creator. Research indicates that the viola was invented around Cremona in the early 1500's, however the Creator's name has gone unrecorded by history. I'm not claiming He had omnipresence or omnipotence or anything, just that the viola is a pretty impressive instrument. If Athens produced the goddess Athena, then it's perfectly reasonable that Cremona produced Cremonus, and if you disagree, you're a blasphemer whose opinion is to be mercilessly shunned forever and ever, amen.
So, I've been doing my best ever since to spread the news--- I've written a two-viola, one-act opera about Cremonus ("Violacentrism, the Opera"--- recorded by me and Tanya), an all-viola symphony Cremonus In Italy (recorded by the Penn State Viola Ensemble), as well as shorter pieces such as the Wrath of Cremonus (American Viola Quartet) and Fanfare for Cremonus (Penn State Vla. Ensemble). I even wrote a piece for full orchestra called Cremonus' Revenge--- where the viola section is featured nearly the entire time--- though oddly enough, no one has played that one yet. (Check out Cremonus' playlist on Youtube!)
Following Cremonus' advice ("It is greatly pleasing unto Me when thou stealeth repertoire from instruments that are not worthy and transcribeth it for the Viola" -Book of Cremonus 18:5), Tanya and I have even transcribed a lot of the orchestral repertoire such as Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, the 1812 Overture, and an unabridged-version of Beethoven's Fifth for viola duo. Trust me, you really won't miss the band instruments playing in your ear!
I hope you've all had a merry Cremonusmas season! Now it's time for me to get back to scales and Schradieck.
In Cremonus' Name,