Orchestral Pieces with intermediate/advanced violin parts and easy cello/bass parts?
We're a high school chamber string orchestra that has pretty strong/advanced violinists, okay-ish violists but extremely weak cellists (low in numbers and almost all are beginners). Anyone know any pieces (preferably belong to the classical genre, but contemporary ones are acceptable too) that might suit our group?
Maybe look a little further back to Handel. Not that the cellists can coast, but there are fewer notes for them to play much of the time.
Try telling that to a cellist doing continuo in the Messiah
Keri, one piece that comes to mind is the orchestral arrangement of Pachelbel's Fmin Chaconne and Variations. The popular orchestral arrangement today will most likely be in the easier Dmin. The cello part is a sequence of 4 slow notes repeated ad infinitum (or so it feels!) until the upper strings have finished, so should be well within your cellists' capabilities. There are several performances on YouTube.
Keri Chen, I write music for school groups, and have string orchestra music ready to go, and I could develop pieces for your ensemble in consultation with their director (yourself?).
Try Early Baroque and French Baroque, Purcell, Rameau, Lully. I am tempted to recommend the Corelli Concerto grossos, but the solo Cello part is the hardest part. Another advantage of the Corelli set is that all of the Viola parts can be transposed to a 3rd violin part. He never used the Viola C string (!).
Another thing to investigate are the trio sonatas of Corelli, Vivaldi, Handel and other Baroque composers. The two solo parts are challenging but it would be easy for you to create viola and cello/bass parts which are greatly simplified from the already easier basso-continuo parts of the originals. Corelli's Opus 1, 2, 3 or 4 are collections of such pieces.