Music Network Presents

Jennifer Stumm’s An Imperfect Instrument

Jennifer Stumm - viola

A solo recital with narrative, specially designed for this Music Network tour

If the violin is a pop star, full of sparkle and pyrotechnics, the viola is a jazz singer who speaks to your heart when it’s breaking, who whispers secrets, and tells lies. The viola might be called the middle child of the string family, often overlooked in favour of its more famous relatives the violin and cello. It's a chameleon, a character actor, an instrument with imperfect acoustics and a spectrum of frequencies closest to the human voice. Composers throughout history have been drawn to its unique ability to convey deep expression, often writing their late (or their last) works for viola. Weaving songs on her 16th century viola from Bach all the way to Sting, in a mix of talk and performance, the acclaimed violist Jennifer Stumm tells a musical story of how imperfection can be the very thing that gives us our voice.

Known for the seductive power and “opal-like beauty" (Washington Post) of her sound, violist and director Jennifer Stumm has appeared on many of the world’s great stages. An enthusiastic speaker and writer, Jennifer recently spoke at NASA about how the arts can help innovate towards a better world, and her viral TEDx talk about the viola and the blessings of being different, An Imperfect Instrument, was named editor’s pick of all TED talks and led to a solo debut at the Berlin Philharmonie. Jennifer has created a special solo version of An Imperfect Instrument for this Music Network tour.

Additionally, composer Jonathan Nangle has written a piece especially for Jennifer and the world premiere of the piece will happen at Mermaid. Jonathan will give a brief 5-min (approx.) introduction and share some insight about the piece directly before the performance of it. It’ll be a lovely opportunity for the audience to hear directly from the composer.

Programme: An Imperfect Instrument

Playford The Rover Reformed (from The Galway Set) Vieuxtemps Capriccio - Hommage à Paganini Jessie Montgomery Rhapsody No. 1 Sting/Alison Krauss You Will Be My Ain True Love (arr. Jennifer Stumm) J.S. Bach Fantasia Cromatica (arr. Zoltán Kodály) Ryan's Collection (Boston, 1883) Slow Jig: Crabs in the skillet & Lord Moira's Hornpipe (from the Abergeldie Castle Set) New Music Network Commission Kurtág Im Volkston, Flapping-slapping, Klagendes Lied (Wailing Song) & The Carenza Jig (from Signs, Games, and Messages) J.S. Bach Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008 Please note this performance will run straight through with no interval.


‘An immaculate player, with unimpeachable accuracy and clarity’

The Strad

‘As played by Jennifer Stumm, the instrument truly shines’

The Guardian

‘Remarkably refined, yet with a wide expressive range’

Gramophone Magazine