In A Big Enough Umbrella, the solo violist starts off trying to imitate the synth bass, fails at that, and gradually wraps herself in strings who can help her express herself more naturally. I wrote the piece in the midst of a certain amount of turmoil in my mid-20s. The original 1984 version has synth strings as the accompaniment; in 2013, I recorded Mary and Fran Rowell performing the string orchestra parts for a solo performance version with pre-recorded real strings. The piece has also been performed all-live by solo viola, string orchestra, and dueling synth bass players. The title comes from a line in a then-current pop song by the Police: “It’s a big enough umbrella, but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.” (Sting has reused the line in three different songs over the years: I guess he like likes it a lot, too.)
A Big Enough Umbrella was originally commissioned by and dedicated to the violist Lois Martin, supported by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The Montpelier Chamber Orchestra under Anne Decker premiered the string orchestra version in 2013, with Mary Rowell as the solo violist.
You can hear Michael Strauss playing A Big Enough Umbrella with the original pre-recorded synths at September 19th in A Book of Days.
You can perform the piece with pre-recorded synth track (i.e. the original 1980s synth version); with pre-recorded acoustic track (i.e. with real strings and basses on the backing track); or I can send string orchestra and synth bass parts for live performance. Please email for pricing on these three alternative versions, and thanks, as always, for supporting this informal way of publishing.
- Instrumentation: synthesizer viola bass orchestra
- Ensemble Size: solo large ensemble
- Duration: 5-12 minutes
- Electronics: Fixed Audio Live Processing
- Video: No
- Project(s): A Book of Days
- Year: 1984