I recently came across a story on the Calgary Herald about Detroit Symphony Orchestra principal violist Alexander Mishnaevski’s collaboration with keyboardist Stuart Zaltz as the rock duo Two Circles Music Co. Their newly released album, Symphony of Life, fuses Mishnaevski’s classical music background and love of jazz violin with Zaltz’s passion for 70s progressive rock groups such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and ELO. The result is, according to Zaltz, a concept album which traces the steps of man:
“It’s a journey from the beginning to the end. It’s growing up, having a family, building a career, watching it all fall apart, falling in love with the wrong people, the joy of children, the sheer delight of being able to tell it in song.”
I was particularly fascinated by the electric viola which Mishnaevski uses on the album. The instrument was custom-made by John Jordan of Jordan music according to the measurements of the vintage 1765 Italian instrument which Mishnaevski plays with the DSO. The five string viola adds a high E string like a violin to the normal viola strings but is built on a 16 1/2 inch viola pattern. Made out of Koa wood, the instrument features a Barbera Twin Standard transducer bridge, gold hardware, abalone tuner buttons, and a detachable upper bout in matching Koa wood.
You can check out Mishnaevski and Zaltz discussing their new album in the video below: