Matthew Lipman is considered one of today’s leading young violists, and he recently released his debut solo album, Ascent, with Cedille Records in collaboration with pianist Henry Kramer. What a privilege it was when I received an invitation to chat with Matthew about how this album came to be. The process of commissioning a new piece of music fascinates me. I asked Matthew to delve a little deeper into how he went about choosing a composer for the new work on his album.Ascent contains another world premiere recording – the Impromptu for Viola and Piano, Op. 33 by Dmitri Shostakovich. It’s not every day that someone gets the opportunity to record the premiere of a newly-discovered work. Matthew told me the story about how he first heard about this piece.There’s significance to the title he chose for his album.Musicians know that the viola is often the target for music jokes. So I was curious how Matthew decided that the viola would be his instrument of choice. Turns out, it wasn’t.I think it was meant to be that Matthew was assigned the viola in his fourth-grade orchestra! Before ending the interview, I had one more question. When he isn’t playing the viola, what is it he enjoys doing in his free time?Check out Ascent and enjoy a variety of fantasy pieces for the viola and a superb performance from Matthew Lipman.