The Sonata for Violin and Cello was commissioned by Hyeyung Yoon and Gregory Beaver in March, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading across the United States. They were to premiere my Piano Trio in April in Kansas City, but that premiere, like most concerts, was cancelled. They contacted me hoping to have a work to perform together in a new online concert series they were about to start called Open Space Music. I accepted the commission and went right to work, hoping to complete something relatively quickly as I was in the process of shifting my teaching from in person to online. In the end, I decided to take the material from my Sonata for Solo Viola and rework and expand the material into this sonata.
The Sonata for Solo Viola was originally planned to be a six movement suite inspired by the six Bach cello suites. The way the original plan worked was that the first movement of my suite would be inspired by the first movement of Bach’s first suite, the second movement of my suite inspired by the second movement of Bach’s second suite, and so on. While composing the work, I realized that the first three movements I wrote all used the same 12-tone row as the foundation of each movement, and because of that connection, I changed the direction of the work from a “suite” to a “sonata”. So, in the new sonata, the first and second movements of the sonata are as planned, the third movement of the sonata was what supposed to be the fourth movement of the suite (and thus very loosely inspired by the Sarabande of the Suite No. 4), and the final movement does not have a direct inspiration from a specific suite, except in my desire to write with the same energy as the Gigues of each suite.