AVS Viola Bank

The AVS Viola Bank is a collection of instruments donated by musicians and music lovers for the purpose of loaning quality instruments and bows to students and professionals in need. The Viola Bank also allows the opportunity for musicians, music lovers, and other supporters of the American Viola Society to make tax-deductible contributions. The Viola Bank was an inspiration of long-time AVS member and New York luthier Sandra Robbins and Helen Callus, concert violist/professor and former president of the American Viola Society.

2023-2024 AVS Viola Bank Recipients

Nicole Herrera

Nicole Herrera, originally from Cartagena, Colombia, started playing the viola at the age of 11. During her time in Colombia, she had the opportunity to perform with several different orchestras and chamber ensembles. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi under the guidance of Dr. Hsiaopei Lee. She has also attended numerous music festivals in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and more recently in Vienna, Austria. She’s had the privilege of receiving instruction from renowned musicians such as Marc Sabbah, Isabel Villanueva, Scott Lee, Richard Young, Clara Takarabe, Craig Munn, Mikhail Zentzov, Ingrid Zur, Amy Muchnick, and others. She is eagerly looking forward to what’s next.
“I’m incredibly fortunate and thrilled to be one of the recipients of the AVS’s violas. This stunning instrument will be a valuable asset as I pursue a career in music. After completing my master’s degree, I will be auditioning for orchestras and teaching positions. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my teacher, Hsiaopei Lee, and the American Viola Society for making my journey into the professional music world smoother. Their support not only impacts me but also enriches the music community.”

Adrian Jackson

Adrian Jackson recently graduated with his Bachelor’s at Eastman and is going on to get a Professional Studies Degree in Orchestral Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory. The program is one year long, and he plans on attending the New England Conservatory to get his Master’s Degree immediately afterwards.

Noah Kincaid

 Noah Kincaid is from Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout high school their teacher, Anna Maria Miller, saw potential in them and inspired their growth as a musician. They encouraged Noah to take private lessons, to compete in state competitions, and provided a space to explore smaller ensembles, which sparked their love for music and performing. Once they realized their passion for music, they then went to further their studies with Hillary Herndon at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. They’re currently a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in music performance, with secondary studies in cello performance. Since coming to Knoxville, Noah has found that they enjoys playing in various ensembles, teaching through the UTK String Project, and connecting with other musicians.

 “For years I had been playing on an instrument that was hindering my growth. It was difficult to get a clear, resonant sound. Since receiving the instrument from AVS, I’ve started to enjoy practicing and listening to my performances more than I had in the past. Being able to play on an exceptional viola has given me the confidence I’ve needed to develop my sound and further my skills. Without the generous donors and AVS, being able to play on a high-quality instrument wouldn’t have been possible, and I am extremely grateful to be one of the recipients and for the opportunities that will come.”

Carlos Leon

 Carlos Leon is a violist from Culiacan, Mexico. His first encounter with the viola was in an El Sistema school back in Mexico, in middle school he started taking private lessons, and was part of the National Youth Orchestra of Mexico when he was in high school. He is currently studying his bachelor’s degree in viola performance at Illinois State University with Dr. Katherine Lewis. Recently he won the ISU Symphony Concerto Competition.

“As an international student I am extremely grateful with the generous donors and the AVS, the high quality instrument that they had lend me is going to help me develop my musicianship, this is something I could not imagine get in my home country.”

Santiago Paez

Santiago Paez, a Colombian-American violist born in Katy, Texas, has embarked on an extraordinary musical journey that has led him to be the person he is today. Currently as a senior at James E. Taylor High School, Santiago’s musical achievements have not only earned him accolades but have also illuminated his growth as an individual.

Many of Santiago’s musical achievements may have never been possible without the generous foundation American Viola Society. Over the years, his mastery of the viola and his consolidating love for his 1988 Scott Cao Viola has allowed him to continue loving music and indulging in its many vulnerable beautiful moments. His passion for music has engorged itself throughout Santiago’s multiple musical experiences, such as the UNT Concerto Competition, where he won 1st Prize, TMEA All State Sinfonietta Orchestra as assistant principal and Principal Viola of the Houston Youth Symphony Sinfonia Orchestra in 2020-2021 and the Houston Youth Symphony Philharmonic Orchestra in 2021-2022. Santiago’s hunger for knowledge and nuanced experiences has propelled him to teach Violin/Viola through SuperProf, a teaching platform, to kids and adults ranging from 12-42 years of age( 4 students ). Santiago wishes to continue his education in music in College as he plans to major in Kinesiology. Santiago’s future hope is to work with aspiring musicians alike and inform them with valuable information to hopefully help prevent any music related injuries such as; Carpal Tunnel, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and countless other injuries.

Testimonial: Throughout Middle school and Highschool his musical talents have been limited by the economic circumstances he was facing. With both his parents trying to manage a rising pre-school business and his dad working a company job all the meanwhile being in real estate, it was difficult to afford a fine instrument. Santiago had been playing on a $400 manufactured Viola that was extremely difficult to play. With the help of AVS Santiago has been able to excel.

Nayyirah Wood

Nayyirah Wood
Music Education Major at Rowan University
Class level: College Junior

Nayyirah Wood started her venture with string instruments at the age of seven in the second grade, when she started playing the violin. She trained with this instrument for five years, and in the seventh grade, she transitioned to the viola. In June 2020, Nayyirah graduated from the High School of Creative and Performing Arts  (CAPA), where she is the second chair in the viola section of the orchestra. Now, she is attending Rowan University as a Music Education Major.

In High School, she held her passion by being involved in several music programs during each school year. Not only was she accepted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance for You for five years, but Nayyirah was also the principal violist at the end of her senior year of High School. In the Summer of 2018, accepted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) and was in the Chamber Players Orchestra. Further, she was a student at the Philadelphia Youth Artist Orchestra and a member of the All-City Philadelphia High School Orchestra.

Throughout her high school career, she has had several mentors and influences. In her Freshman year, she had the pleasure of being taught by Adelya Shagidullina at CMSP, where she developed more control over her craft. In her Sophomore year, she was instructed by Yecheskel Francis at CMSP, where she learned different genres of music and the functionality of music in any given period. In the Summer of 2018, Nayyirah was instructed by Michael Casimir at the Curtis Institute. He assisted her with audition pieces and helped her understand the emotion in these pieces. From the Summer of 2018 to 2020, at Temple Prep, she was trained by Sam Quintal from the Jasper String Quartet. She continued to focus on audition pieces, intonation, and rhythm. During the fall of 2019, was trained by Philadelphia Orchestra Member Marvin Moon to help her with the upcoming college audition. Now at Rowan University, she was taught by Dr. Timothy Schwarz and Dr. Ana Tsinadze in learning how to improve her craft to become a future educator.

Hello, I am Nayyirah Wood, a Music Education Major at Rowan University. I have been part of the Viola Bank since January 2021, and my experience with the American Viola Society made my college level grow in my last two tears of school much more accessible than when I first started college. Before I joined the Viola Society, I was using the same viola I got in 2016 when I first started High School; I could not afford to get the size I needed, and I was afraid of was something I did not have throughout my time in High School through College. When my professor Dr. Schwarz brought up the Viola Society, I could not believe him for a second until I got an email, then I shortly got a viola after. In the last two years, I have gone from a 15 ½ to 15 ¾ to now my perfect size viola 16 inches. Something that all; my teachers have told me the size I needed was something I did not believe until I played it. I would not have had that opportunity like this without The American Viola Society, now, I am moving toward my Senior Recital this coming year, and I am excited to see what my first Solo Recital will be like and hope for what the future offers.

Catherine Ziegler

 Catherine Ziegler was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She began playing the viola in middle school at the encouragement of her late father. Her early passion for music was fostered at the Tulsa Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Barthelmes Conservatory in Tulsa. Catherine has earned bachelor’s degrees in both Music and Sustainability Studies from the University of Florida, graduating with highest honors. While at UF, she relished in performing with the UF Symphony Orchestra and in various ensembles in the chamber music program.

Catherine is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in viola performance at the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona under Dr. Molly Gebrian. Catherine also enjoys participating in summer music festivals and will be attending Eastern Music Festival with a scholarship this summer. Her previous professors include Dr. Lauren Hodges and Terry Pollak. Other mentors include Dr. Steven Thomas, Dr. Tiffany Lu, Dr. Raymond Chobaz, and John Vaida.

“I am incredibly grateful and honored to have the opportunity to play on a fine instrument from the American Viola Society Viola Bank. I have played on several borrowed instruments in the past, and they always inspire me to share the unique sound of that instrument and celebrate the legacy of the previous owner. My personal instrument was a gift from my late father while I was in middle school. It has served me well for the past decade, but I am excited to further my technique and individual sound on such a quality instrument.”

Applicant procedures/forms

The following content is accessible for members only, please sign in.

Viola Bank Recipient Responsibilities

Recipients of loans from the American Viola Society’s Viola Bank are expected to be AVS members in good standing at the time of the loan application or may submit a membership application in conjunction with the loan application. Recipients must acquire instrument insurance and provide proof of insurance to the AVS National Office prior to receiving the instrument.

During the term of the loan, recipients are responsible for maintaining the instrument in good repair.

Loans are typically for a one-year period from the date it is shipped from the Viola Bank. Loans may be renewed for a second year by requesting an extension of the loan in writing to the Viola Bank; postmarked no later than 90 days prior to the culmination of the loan. Recipients are expected to return the instrument within two weeks of the end of the loan period.

How to Donate

The AVS Viola Bank provides opportunities for musicians, music lovers, and other supporters of the American Viola Society to make tax-deductible contributions of instruments, bows, adjustable viola cases, sets of strings, and tax-deductible monetary contributions for maintenance and repair.

To prepare a viola for shipping, proper instrument packing instructions are provided below.

To support the AVS Viola Bank with a monetary donation, please click HERE.  If you would like to donate an instrument, bow, adjustable viola case, or set of strings to the AVS Viola Bank, please email info@avsnationaloffice.org.