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Faculty Recital: Melia Watras: Song: An Endless Flight

Monday, April 11, 2022 - 7:30pm
$20 General; $15 UW Affiliate (UW faculty, staff, UW retiree, UWAA member); $10 students/seniors
Violist/Composer Melia Watras (Photo: Michelle Smith-Lewis)
Violist/Composer Melia Watras (Photo: Michelle Smith-Lewis)

Violist/composer Melia Watras is joined onstage by narrator Shelia Daniels, violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim and vocalist Carrie Henneman Shaw for a program of newly commissioned music by Alessandra Barrett and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and works by Melia Watras and Frances White. All six pieces were composed in the last 10 years, and four of them will receive their world premieres on this concert, including Watras’s 5 Poems of Herbert Woodward Martin, which contains Song: An Endless Flight, a poem Martin dedicated to Watras and Lim.

Masks are recommended in all indoor spaces on the UW campus. Patrons must show proof of vaccination or recent negative provider-administered COVID-19 PCR test for entry to live events at Meany Hall. Individuals unable to be fully vaccinated, including children under age five and people with a medical or religious exemption, must have proof of a negative provider-administered COVID-19 PCR test (taken within 72 hours of the performance). UW staff will check for proof of vaccination and negative COVID PCR tests at the doors as a condition of entry. Proof of negative test result must come from a test provider, a laboratory or a health care provider. Home or self-administered tests will not be accepted. Details of these policies and procedures are at 


Melia Watras:
Song: An Endless Flight

Monday, April 11, 2022      7:30 PM    Gerlich Theater

Sheila Daniels, narrator
Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin
Herbert Woodward Martin, recorded voice
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice and narrator
Melia Watras, viola


koʻu inoa for solo viola (2017)……………………………………..Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti (b. 1983)

Melia Watras, viola

Hertabuise for narrator and violin (2021)*…..……………………..……….…Melia Watras (b. 1969)
                                                                                                     poem Herbert Woodward Martin

Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Herbert Woodward Martin, recorded voice

La Foliage for violin and viola (2021)*..………………………..…..……Alessandra Barrett (b. 1990)

Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola

5 Poems of Herbert Woodward Martin for narrator, violin and viola (2021)*..….……Melia Watras
Fragment for Emily Dickinson for narrator, violin and viola
Prima volta for violin solo
Normal Desires for narrator and viola (or violin)
Seconda volta for voice and violin
Mystery for narrator, violin and viola
In Pandemic Times for narrator and violin
Terza volta for violin and viola
Song: An Endless Flight for narrator, violin and viola

Carrie Henneman Shaw, narrator; Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola


to be two for violin and viola (2021)*..………………………………..……..Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola

Weeping Pendula for voice and loop pedal (2021)*……………..………..……..……..Melia Watras

Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice

As night falls for violin, viola, narrator and electronic sound (2012)….……….Frances White (b. 1960), music
James Pritchett, text

Michael Jinsoo Lim, violin; Melia Watras, viola; Sheila Daniels, narrator

* world premiere


Lanzilotti: koʻu inoa for solo viola (2017)

A homesick bariolage based on the anthem Hawai‘i Aloha (dedicated to Nāwāhineokalaʻi).

—Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

Barrett: La Foliage for violin and viola (2021)

La Foliage is a piece that illuminates vignettes from my own life. Firstly, this work was inspired by a doctoral dissertation entitled “The Everlasting Folia,” written by my dear friend Dr. Emily Acri. Her dissertation illustrated the history and lineage throughout time of the folia theme, which she describes as an “everlasting, ever-changing body of work.” In this spirit, I wanted to contribute to the folia repertoire by composing my own piece based on Corelli’s celebrated version of La Folia, published in 1700. A variation of the La Folia theme is heard throughout La Foliage as an ostinato (repeating figure) that is traded between the violin and viola. My second inspiration for La Foliage was the desire to create a musical allegory capturing America’s changing political climate between the two U.S. presidencies during which this piece was written: beginning in 2020 during a melancholy Trump era and ending in 2022 during a hopeful, albeit confused, Biden era. My third inspiration for La Foliage was to capture elements of my Russian Jewish, Irish, and Scottish heritages. The term “foliage” classically refers to growth and change. La Foliage embodies my own personal growth and change, as well as the change within my country.

I am incredibly honored that Melia Watras asked me to write this piece. She was inspired by a meditation I wrote in early 2020 for our mutual friend, Sonja Myklebust, who tragically lost her battle with brain cancer. The piece for Sonja, Lifeblood, is a work for solo viola and pre- recorded ostinato. The ostinato line symbolized the cyclical, continuity of breath, while the solo viola part symbolized life’s journey and the changes that affect breath. Originally, La Foliage was intended to be another work for solo viola and pre-recorded ostinato. But I was elated when Melia mentioned Mike (violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim) might also like to play this piece. I adjusted the work as a duet between violin and viola, with the ostinato line alternating between the two instruments. I am so lucky to have these two beautifully thoughtful musicians play this work together.

—Alessandra Barrett

Watras: 5 Poems of Herbert Woodward Martin for narrator, violin and viola (2021)

I have been lucky and grateful for many meaningful and important relationships in my life. One of these is with poet Herbert Woodward Martin and his family. 

When my father, Joseph Watras, took a professor position at the University of Dayton, he quickly became close with his new colleague, Herbert Martin, which sprouted friendships throughout generations of both families. That beginning was a little over four decades ago!

Among many things, Herb Martin is an expert and renowned scholar on the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, and a spellbinding performer. Having the opportunity to hear him read is a revelation, and to hear his perspective on all things is a gift.

For this composition, I reached out to Herb in February, 2021, and asked if I could set his poem titled Song: An Endless Flight. It has held special meaning for my husband and me since it was a part of the recitation Herb gave at our wedding. I was overjoyed when he said yes. As I corresponded with Herb, I realized I wanted to form a small collection, and decided on these five poems of his. The addition of three short voltas is a nod to Mussorgky’s Promenades - here alluding to a turn of a page.

It was deeply moving to listen to Herb’s reading of his poetry as I composed. I am honored to include poems that he dedicated to Mike and me (Song: An Endless Flight) and to my parents (Fragment for Emily Dickinson).

This collection is dedicated with affection and appreciation to Sue and Herbert Woodward Martin.

—Melia Watras

Watras: Hertabuise for narrator and violin (2021)

Hertabuise is part of my continued work with poet and friend Herbert Woodward Martin. I had previously showcased his poems in two forms: setting his words in a quasi-sprechstimme style in 5 Poems of Herbert Woodward Martin (included on tonight’s program), and as inspiration for sound worlds in A brazen butterfly alights. I asked Herb if he was interested in a new collaboration, this time with him reading to a single violin, played by Michael Jinsoo Lim. Among the writings he sent, he highlighted Hertabuise. The African, which deeply moved me. In the end, I decided on two versions for Hertabuise: one with Herb’s exquisite words and one for violin alone.

—Melia Watras

Lanzilotti: to be two for violin and viola (2021)

to be two was written for Melia Watras and her husband, violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim, and takes its title from the book by philosopher/linguist Luce Irigaray. Excerpts from the following passage by Irigaray are woven into the score:

“Thanks to perception, we can become, the one for the other, a bridge towards a becoming which is yours, mine, and ours. I can be a bridge for you, as you can be one for me. This bridge can never become the property of either. The bridge which I am for you will never be mine or ‘to me.’ I perceive you, I create an idea of you, I preserve you in my memory—in affect, in thought—in order to assist you in your becoming. While I become me, I remember you.” (p. 43)

Aside from general timbre shifts, shaping of the simple melody is left to be found together, “the one for the other.”

—Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

Watras: Weeping Pendula for voice and loop pedal (2021)
Dedicated with many thanks to the captivating singer, Carrie Henneman Shaw.

Weeping Pendula
poem by Michael Jinsoo Lim

Weeping Pendula
Reaching to the ground,
Asking to be found.
Casting penumbra,
Waiting to be crowned.

© 2021 by Michael Jinsoo Lim

White/Pritchett: As night falls for violin, viola, narrator and electronic sound (2012)

As night falls is the third in a series of works that began with The old rose reader. In that piece, the scene is a bedroom. A woman is having difficulty getting to sleep, and a man sits by her bedside, reading to her from horticultural books about roses. Sometimes he reads from the book, and sometimes he makes up his own fanciful stories about the roses. After The old rose reader we made a companion piece, The book of roses and memory, which acts as a kind of remembrance of the first piece, as if from a much later time.

As night falls is meant to occupy the space between The old rose reader and The book of roses and memory to form a concert-length theatre piece. The bedroom scene is the same, but this time we view it from the perspective of the woman. Her monologue, read by the narrator, comes from a place of fluid boundaries: between past and present, memory and perception, consciousness and unconsciousness, reality and dream, life and death.

In As night falls Frances refrained from alluding to themes from the other two pieces. Instead, she tried to create music that is in the same sonic world but has a completely different feeling and texture. Because this is a duet, the violin and viola inevitably suggest, in some sense, the couple in the story, but they also create a kind of commentary on the text that magnifies and empathizes with the human condition of the characters.

As night falls was written for Michael Jinsoo Lim and Melia Watras, with funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

—Frances White and James Pritchett

Artist Bios

Alessandra Barrett

Alessandra Barrett is a performing violist and violinist, viola/violin teacher, and composer based in Seattle, WA. She earned her B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in violin/viola performance, and her M.M. in viola performance from the University of Washington, where she studied with Melia Watras. Alessandra is currently a D.M.A candidate at UW. Her doctoral research is centered on health and wellness of upper-string instrumentalists. Among the issues she is focusing on: practice habits that foster deliberate practice, self-regulation, and motivation; psychological factors that both enable and hinder musical progress, and physiological issues surrounding violin/viola playing. Through this interdisciplinary approach, she is developing tools that make for more effective musical learning while designing a method that builds both psychological and physiological strength in musicians. In alignment with her research, Alessandra is a certified yoga instructor and has earned a certificate in the essentials of performing arts health for instrumental music from the American College of Sports Medicine. She has performed at festivals and presented at conferences throughout the world. 

Sheila Daniels

Sheila Daniels is a Seattle-based director, educator, and actor. Recent directing work includes direction of The Wolves for ACT, Wild Horses for Intiman, and Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Spring Awakening for Cornish College, and is a 5-time nominee and 2-time recipient of the Gregory Award for Outstanding Director. She has produced for two years as Bartlett Sher’s Associate Director at Intiman, and served as a guest director at University of Texas, Austin. Sheila has also been guest faculty at the University of Washington, Seattle University, the Seattle Children’s Theatre and as a guest director. 

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti 

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) musician dedicated to the arts of our time. A "leading composer-performer" (The New York Times), Lanzilotti is the recipient of a 2020 Native Launchpad Artist Award, a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Award, and 2021 McKnight Visiting Composer Residency. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health) Current commissions include a new work celebrating Isamu Noguchi’s Sky Gate presented by the City & County of Honolulu, a string quartet for Argus Quartet, and a new work for the GRAMMY-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

As a recording artist, Lanzilotti has played on albums from Björk's Vulnicura Live and Joan Osborne's Love and Hate, to Dai Fujikura's Chance Monsoon and David Lang’s anatomy theater. Lanzilotti’s upcoming solo performance projects include Wayfinder—a new viola concerto by Dai Fujikura inspired by Polynesian wayfinding. in manus tuas—Lanzilotti’s solo viola album debut—was featured in Steve Smith’s Log Journal Playlist (Live life out Loud), Bandcamp’s Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2019, and The Boston Globe’s Top 10 classical albums of 2019, and was called “an entrancing new album” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross.

To reach new audiences and share contemporary music, Lanzilotti has published articles in Music & Literature and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, and written program notes for the London Symphony Orchestra. Lanzilotti's dissertation is an analysis of Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome showing the influence of architecture and visual art on the work. As an extension of the research, she created Shaken Not Stuttered, a free online resource demonstrating extended techniques for strings. Lanzilotti has also worked as a producer and curator, recently as the Curator of Music at EMPAC. Upcoming publications include a contribution to Tuning Calder’s Clouds, edited by Vic Brooks and Jennifer Burris, which will be published in fall 2022 in a collaboration between EMPAC at Rensselaer, the Calder Foundation, and Athénée Press. It is the first book to explore the artistic, technological, and political intersections of Alexander Calder’s sculptural Acoustic Ceiling.

As an educator, Lanzilotti has been on the faculty at New York University, University of Northern Colorado (where she was also the director of the contemporary music ensemble), Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, and Point CounterPoint Music Festival. Lanzilotti is currently the Director of Community Engagement for Hawaiʻi Contemporary, connecting Hawaiʻi and the Pacific through contemporary art, as well as a lecturer in both Composition & Viola at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

Dr. Lanzilotti studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale School of Music, and Manhattan School of Music. In addition, Lanzilotti was an orchestral fellow in the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the New World Symphony. She participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy under Pierre Boulez, and was the original violist in the Lucerne Festival Alumni Ensemble. Her mentors include Hiroko Primrose, Peter Slowik, Jesse Levine, Martin Bresnick, Wilfried Strehle, Karen Ritscher, and Reiko Füting.

Michael Jinsoo Lim

Violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim has been praised for playing with “delicious abandon” by Gramophone and described as “bewitching” and “masterful” by the Seattle Times. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “conspicuously accomplished champion of contemporary music,” Lim has worked with composers such as Milton Babbitt, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Shulamit Ran and Joan Tower. Known for his versatility with a wide range of styles, he enjoys a dynamic career as a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster and recording artist. Lim is concertmaster and solo violinist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra (“surely the best ballet band in America”—New York Times), serves as artistic director and violinist of the Seattle-based ensemble Frequency (“a dream string trio”—King FM-Seattle’s Second Inversion) and is director and co-founder of Planet M Records. His discography can be found on Naxos, Planet M, Sono Luminus, DreamWorks, Albany, Bridge, CRI, Bayer Records, RIAX and New Focus.

Solo appearances with Pacific Northwest Ballet include multiple performances of the Stravinsky Violin Concerto (in New York City and Seattle), Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 (Paris and Seattle), and Richard Einhorn’s rock and roll inspired piece for electric violin, Maxwell’s Demon (Paris and Seattle). Lim has recorded numerous world premieres, including Andrew Waggoner’s Violin Concerto (written for Lim) for Bridge Records, and solo violin works by Melia Watras for Sono Luminus and Planet M Records.

For twenty years, Lim toured and recorded with the Corigliano Quartet, a group he co-founded. With the quartet, he won the Grand Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the ASCAP/CMA Award for Adventurous Programming, and performed in the nation’s leading music centers, including Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and the Kennedy Center. The quartet’s Naxos label CD was honored as one of The New Yorker’s Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year.

As a theater artist, Lim appeared in director Nick Schwartz-Hall’s Tempo of Recollection, a show about composer Erwin Schulhoff, and served as music consultant for Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of Opus, directed by Braden Abraham. Lim has performed onstage with Pacific Northwest Ballet in George Balanchine’s Duo Concertante, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain and Alexander Eckman’s Cacti.

Offstage endeavors include producing three critically acclaimed albums by violist/composer Melia Watras (as well as being co-producer on a fourth), his work as lyricist for a number of compositions by Watras, and an appearance alongside Jinkx Monsoon in a promotional video for the city of Seattle. Lim is the inspiration for a character in Erica Miner’s operatic mystery novel, Death by Opera.  

Lim was among the final pupils of legendary violinist and pedagogue Josef Gingold at Indiana University. He later studied chamber music at the Juilliard School, where he also taught as an assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet. He currently serves on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts. Lim has given violin and chamber music classes throughout the US and in France, Korea and Mexico. He has served on the faculty of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and taught at Indiana University as a guest professor.

Herbert Woodward Martin

Herbert Woodward Martin began his studies at the University of Toledo. He continued them at SUNY at Buffalo, then at Middlebury College, and finished at Carnegie Mellon University. He came to University of Dayton in the fall of 1970, and has spent the bulk of his career there. The exceptions occurred in 1973, when he served as a distinguished visiting professor at Central Michigan University, and in 1990, when he was a Fulbright Scholar in Hungary.

Frances White

Frances White composes instrumental and electronic music. She is particularly known for her works combining live instruments and computer-generated electronic sound spaces. She studied composition at the University of Maryland, Brooklyn College, and Princeton University. She has received awards, honors, grants and commissions from organizations such as Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (France), the International Computer Music Association, Hungarian Radio, ASCAP, the Bang on a Can Festival, the Other Minds Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, The Dale Warland Singers, the American Music Center, The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and The Guggenheim Foundation. She has received resident artist fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and The Djerassi Resident Artists Program. In 2007, Mode Records released Centre Bridge, a CD devoted to her electroacoustic works. Ms. White’s music has also appeared on CD on the Wergo, Centaur, Nonsequitur, Harmonia Mundi, and Bridge labels. Ms. White’s music was featured as part of the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant’s award-winning films Elephant and Paranoid Park.

Ms. White studies the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), and finds that the traditional music of this instrument informs and influences her work as a composer. Much of Ms. White’s music is inspired by her love of nature, and her electronic works frequently include natural sound recorded around where she lives, in central New Jersey.

Newly appointed voice faculty Carrie Shaw (Ben Marcum Photo)

Carrie Henneman Shaw joined the Voice Program as an artist in residence in Autumn 2020. As a singer, Carrie engages in a wide variety of musical projects, but she focuses on early and contemporary music.

A sample of her work includes an upcoming solo recording on Naxos Records of early 18th-century French song; creating music for a live-music-for-dance project with James Sewell Ballet; and collaborating on a recording with the band Deerhoof. Carrie is a two-time winner of a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, and she is a member of two groups that focus on music by living composers, Ensemble Dal Niente, a mixed chamber collective, and Quince Ensemble, a treble voice quartet.

She appears in numerous recordings ranging from medieval sacred music to a video-game soundtrack, and before coming to the UW, she has been maintaining a full university studio for the six years and participating in educational residencies for composers and performers around the country, including UC-Berkeley, Stanford, New York University, the University of Chicago, and beyond.

Melia Watras (Photo: Michelle Smith Lewis)

Melia Watras has been hailed by Gramophone as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality” and by The Strad as “staggeringly virtuosic.” As a violist, composer and collaborative artist, she has sustained a distinguished career as a creator and facilitator of new music and art. The 2023-24 season includes the release of her new album Play/Write, which features her own compositions and works by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and Frances White; the world premiere of Watras’s Fantasies in alto clef for viola ensemble, commissioned by the American Viola Society for their 2024 festival in Los Angeles; and the debut of Watras’s Sarabanda for solo viola, which will be premiered and recorded as part of Atar Arad’s project, Partita Party.

Watras’s discography has received considerable attention from the press and the public. Her album String Masks, a collection of her own compositions including the titular work which utilizes Harry Partch instruments, was praised for “not only the virtuoso’s sensitive playing, but also her innovative and daring spirit,” by the Journal of the American Viola Society. Her compositional debut album, Firefly Songs, was hailed for “distilling rich life experiences into strikingly original musical form” by Textura. Schumann Resonances was described by the American Record Guide as “a rare balance of emotional strength and technical delicacy.” The Strad called 26 “a beautiful celebration of 21st century viola music.” Ispirare made numerous Best of 2015 lists, including the Chicago Reader’s (“Watras knocked the wind out of me with the dramatically dark beauty of this recording”). Short Stories was a Seattle Times Critics’ Pick, with the newspaper marveling at her “velocity that seems beyond the reach of human fingers.” Of her debut solo CD (Viola Solo), Strings praised her “stunning virtuosic talent” and called her second release (Prestidigitation) “astounding and both challenging and addictive to listen to.”

Watras’s compositions have been performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Bloomington (IN), Columbus (GA), Denmark, Spain, Switzerland and Wales. She has been commissioned by the Avalon String Quartet, violinists Mark Fewer, Rachel Lee Priday and Michael Jinsoo Lim, cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, pianist Cristina Valdés, accordionist Jeanne Velonis, violist Rose Wollman, and has had works performed by artists such as violist Atar Arad, singer Galia Arad, pianist Winston Choi, Harry Partch Instrumentarium Director Charles Corey, violinists Tekla Cunningham, Manuel Guillén and Yura Lee, vocalist Carrie Henneman Shaw, percussionist Bonnie Whiting and the ensemble Frequency. Her music has been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and can be found on the albums Play/Write; String Masks; 3 Songs for Bellows, Buttons and Keys; Firefly Songs; Schumann Resonances and 26. Watras’s adaptation of John Corigliano’s Fancy on a Bach Air for viola is published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and can be heard on her Viola Solo album.

For twenty years, Watras concertized worldwide and recorded extensively as violist of the renowned Corigliano Quartet, which she co-founded. The quartet appears on 13 albums, including their recording on the Naxos label, which was honored as one of the Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New Yorker.

Melia Watras studied with Atar Arad at Indiana University, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. While at Indiana, Watras began her teaching career as Professor Arad’s Associate Instructor, and was a member of the faculty as a Visiting Lecturer. She went on to study chamber music at the Juilliard School while serving as a teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet.

Watras is currently Professor of Viola and Chair of Strings at the University of Washington, where she holds the Ruth Sutton Waters Endowed Professorship and was awarded the Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship, the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship, the Kreielsheimer and Jones Grant for Research Excellence in the Arts, and the Royalty Research Fund. Watras has given viola and chamber music classes at schools such as Indiana University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), and Chosun University (South Korea). She frequently returns to her alma mater, Indiana, to teach as a guest professor. She plays a viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.

People Involved: