Primrose Competition

2024 Primrose International Viola Competition

Applications are now open for the competition, dedicated to the memory of David Dalton, champion of the legacy of William Primrose

The 17th Primrose International Viola Competition, co-presented by The Colburn School and the American Viola Society, will take place on June 17-22, 2024 at Colburn School’s Zipper Hall. Featuring the world’s best and most promising young violists, all rounds will be open to the public, with ticket on sale in early 2024. All live rounds will be streamed on The Violin Channel.

Applications are now open and must be received by January 15, 2024. For more information, click here.

Twenty four live round participants will compete in the Quarter-Final Round on June 17 & 18, 2024, and eight competitors will advance to the Semi-Final Round on June 19, 2024.

During the Quarter-Final Round, competitors will perform works that demonstrate the musical and virtuosic strengths of the competitor, including the performance of one piece for solo viola or for viola and piano by a BIPOC composer. During the Semi-Final Round, competitors will perform selected works and also have the freedom to choose their repertoire, including original works.

During the first of two Final Rounds on June 21, the final three competitors will perform Debussy’s Trio for Flute, Viola and Pedal Harp (1915) with flutist Denis Bourikov and harpist Cristina Montes Mateo. During the second Final Round on June 22, the competitors will perform either the Bela Bartók Viola Concerto or William Walton Viola Concerto with orchestra.

The winner will be announced during the awards ceremony held on June 22. The first prize winner will receive $15,000 as well as invitations to perform at the 2026 American Viola Society Festival and to participate in the semi-finals of the Concert Artists Guild Competition. The second prize winner will receive $10,000; the third prize winner will receive $5,000; the transcriptions prize winner will receive $1,000; and the Illumination Prize winner will receive $1,000 for best performance of a work by an underrepresented composer demographic.

The live round competition jury will be comprised of: Tim Frederiksen (Jury Chairman), Atar Arad, Cathy Basrak (First Prize, 1995 Primrose Competition), Ensik Choi, Steven Dann, Ayane Kozasa (First Prize, 2011 Primrose Competition), and Geraldine Walter (First Prize, 1979 Primrose Competition).

Nokuthula Ngwenyama— viola soloist, composer, and 1993 Primrose Competition Winner — will serve as the inaugural Honorary Competition Chair and will write a commissioned work to be performed at the semi-final rounds of the competition.

The 4-day American Viola Society Festival will be held concurrently with the Competition on the Colburn School campus, with events scheduled around the competition semi-final and final rounds. The AVS Festival event will also feature recital performances, presentations, masterclasses, youth competitions, exhibits, and much more.

“The Primrose Competition is an inspirational occasion that illuminates brilliant young talent, and celebrates a distinctive instrument and its exceptional repertoire,” said Colburn School President and CEO Sel Kardan. “It is an honor to continue our partnership with the American Viola Society and co-present this special competition that pays homage to the esteemed legacy of William Primrose. We look forward to welcoming brilliant young violists from around the world for what promises to be an extraordinary week of performances.”

“The Primrose Competition assembles the brightest international rising stars of the viola on one stage, and the American Viola Society is honored to join our wonderful partners at The Colburn School in presenting this exceptional event,” said American Viola Society President Ames Asbell. “For the first time since 2018, the AVS will present a four-day viola festival to complement the riveting Primrose Competition live rounds. It is fitting that we celebrate Dr. David Dalton’s landmark contributions to viola scholarship, pedagogy, performance, and community with an event that showcases every facet of our wonderful instrument.”

The Primrose will be dedicated to Dr. David Dalton, who was one of the world’s greatest champions of the viola, and a former student and friend of William Primrose. Dr. Dalton was professor emeritus of viola at Brigham Young University, and earned his B.M. and M.M. degrees in violin at the Eastman School of Music. After meeting William Primrose, he switched to viola and received his doctorate in performance at Indiana University. Dalton collaborated with Primrose in writing his memoir, “Walk on the North Side and Playing the Viola: Conversations with William Primrose” and produced two documentaries, “A Violist’s Legacy,” and “William Primrose, Violist.” Primrose and Dalton co-founded of the Primrose International Viola Archive (PIVA) at BYU, the largest and most important repository of materials related to the instrument. Dr. Dalton served as president of the American and International Viola Societies, as well as editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society.

About the Primrose International Viola Competition®

Founded in 1979, the PRIMROSE INTERNATIONAL VIOLA COMPETITION®(PIVC) has established itself as a showcase for young musicians who have achieved world class excellence. One of the world’s most prestigious string competitions, it has established an impeccable track record of identifying the young talent of tomorrow. Since 2014, the PIVC has been co-presented by the American Viola Society and the Colburn School in Los Angeles. More information about past laureates and future competitions can be found at the official competition website.

Every six years, the American Viola Society holds a full 4-day AVS Festival in conjunction with the Primrose International Viola Competition and the American. The 2024 American Viola Society Festival will be the second such collaborative event, provided violists of every stripe to experience an unparalleled slate of viola offerings, including youth competitions, lectures, workshops, masterclasses, and much more, in addition to the Primrose live round competition.  Please mark your calendar and plan now to attend!

Beginning in 2024, the AVS institutes the Illumination Prize in the amount of $1000 for the best performance of a work by a BIPOC composer. If you would like to support our mission to promote the works of underrepresented composers, please click here.