Guidelines

Primrose International Viola Competition

The Primrose International Viola Competition® 2024 is open to violists born on or after June 23, 1992, who are ready to embark on an international solo career. The Competition welcomes applicants of all nationalities, ethnic origins, religions, and genders. Applicants are required to be current members in good standing with the American Viola Society and to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $125 US dollars.

Repertoire Guidelines & Procedures

Competitors must perform a different selection of works in each round (including the Pre-Screening Round), and no substitutions are allowed for required works. Repeats are not encouraged, but permitted. The cutting of particularly lengthy tutti sections is strongly encouraged for all rounds (except for the Final Round), but ultimately left to the discretion of the competitor. All works originally written for viola & orchestra and all works for solo viola must be performed by memory. Competitors are free to decide their performance order for each round, but those who do not abide by the time limits may be stopped by the jury.

Only one transcribed work may be used to compete for the “Transcriptions Prize,” and only one work by an underrepresented composer demographic may be used to compete for the “Illumination Prize.” The competition is not open to laureates of any previous edition of the Primrose International Viola Competition. The number of competitors are subject to change, and the jury will have the discretion to decide on the final number of competitors for each round. All prizes will be awarded, and the decisions of the jury will be final.

Pre-Screening/Video Round

Maximum length of total combined performance of all three works – 20 minutes

Competitors will perform works that fulfill all of the following criteria, and each video recording shall be made from start to finish without cuts and/or splices. Each work shall be uploaded separately. Since it will be a blind review process, do not include your name on the videos or on the titles of your video files:

  1. Virtuosic piece of choice (examples include, but are not limited to, Paganini’s 24 Caprices or the Penderecki Cadenza for Solo Viola);
  2. The Prelude of a Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite, the Preludio of Partita No. 3 in E Major, or the first movement of a Violin Sonata, transcribed for viola; and
  3. First Movement of Carl Philipp Stamitz Viola Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 1 or Franz Anton Hoffmeister Viola Concerto in D Major, both including cadenzas.
Quarter-Final Round

Minimum length of performance – 20 minutes; Maximum length of performance – 25 minutes

The 24 competitors in the Quarter-Final Round will perform works that fulfill all three of the following criteria:

  1. One major work for solo viola from the list below. Competitors may choose to play one or more movements from the same work to maintain time constraints; however, portions of movements are not permitted:
    • Paul Hindemith: Sonata for Solo Viola No. 1, Op. 11, No. 5 (1919); No. 2, Op. 25, No. 1 (1922); No. 3, Op. 31, No. 4 (1923); or No. 4 (1937)
    • Max Reger: Any of the Drei Suiten (Three Suites) for Solo Viola, Op. 131d (1915)
    • Ernst Krenek: Sonata for Viola Solo, Op. 92, No. 3 (1942)
  2. One piece of choice with piano accompaniment from a category below:
    • Transcribed piece for viola – the transcription can be their own OR a transcription by William Primrose. Some Primrose transcriptions are listed in the PDF called “Primrose Transcriptions” below for reference. (Note: competitors who choose to perform the Weber Andante e rondo ungarese must use the Primrose transcription)
    • Virtuosic piece (examples include, but are not limited to, Paganini Sonata per la Grand Viola and Enescu Concertstück)
  3. One piece for solo viola or for viola & piano by a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) composer. Competitors may refer to a list of suggested works here, but are not limited to these works. (Note: while the database is rather broad, competitors must choose a work specifically by a BIPOC composer to fulfill this requirement.)
Semi-Final Round

Maximum length of performance – 50 minutes 

 The eight competitors in the Semi‐Final Round will perform works that fulfill the requirements below: 

  1.  Any two contrasting movements of a solo work by Johann Sebastian Bach (one movement can have been used in the pre-screening round);
  2. The commissioned work for viola and piano by composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama for the 2024 Primrose International Viola Competition, lasting from 5-7 minutes (All live round competitors will have access to the score in March 2024); and  
  3. A complete major work for Viola and Piano (Selections include, but are not limited to: Clarke Sonata, a Brahms Sonata, Rochberg Sonata, any Hindemith Sonata for Viola, Bloch Suite 1919, Shostakovich Sonata, Bax Sonata, Bowen Sonata, Walker Sonata, Rubinstein Sonata, any Juon Sonata, Vieuxtemps Sonata, etc.) 
Final Round

Each of the three competitors in the Final Round will perform, in its entirety, Claude Debussy Trio for Flute, Viola and Pedal Harp (1915); and either the Bela Bartók Viola Concerto (ed. Serly) or William Walton Viola Concerto with orchestra.

Prizes

1ST PRIZE *

$15,000

2ND PRIZE

$10,000

3RD PRIZE

$5,000

TRANSCRIPTIONS PRIZE

$1,000

ILLUMINATION PRIZE**

$1,000

* The First Prize winner will also receive the following: 1) an invitation to perform at the 2026 American Viola Society Festival and 2) an invitation to the semi-finals of the Concert Artists Guild Competition  

** For best performance of a work by an underrepresented composer demographic 

Competition Schedule

(All live rounds of the Competition will be held in Zipper Hall.)

PRE-SCREENING/VIDEO ROUND

Online application due on January 15, 2024

NOTIFICATION OF LIVE ROUND COMPETITORS

Mid-February 2024

DEADLINE FOR LIVE ROUND COMPETITORS TO SUBMIT REPERTOIRE

By end of February 2024

ANNOUNCEMENT OF LIVE ROUND COMPETITORS

March 2024

DRAWING OF LOTS

June 16, 2024

QUARTER-FINAL ROUNDS

June 17 & 18, 2024

SEMI-FINAL ROUND

June 19, 2024

FINAL ROUND (DEBUSSY TRIO)

June 21, 2024

FINAL ROUND (CONCERTO) and AWARDS CEREMONY

June 22, 2024

Jury Rules and Voting Procedures

 

The Competition Jury consists of: 

Jury Chairman – The Jury Chairman is the executive representative of the Primrose International Viola Competition® 2024 Jury. The Jury Chairman is very familiar with the goals and philosophy of the Competition, and is a voting participant in all Jury sessions. 

Jurors – The 5 Jurors attend all of the competition performances. They are voting participants in the voting sessions. 

Official Mathematician – The Official Mathematician monitors and regulates the voting process and the scoring procedures to ensure absolute fairness. The Official Mathematician is a non-voting participant in voting sessions. 

The tasks of the Competition Jury are: 

  1. To choose 8 Competitors to advance to the Semi-Final Round after the completion of the Quarter-Final Round.
  2. To choose 3 Competitors to advance to the Final Round after the completion of the Semi-Final Round.
  3. To rank the 3 Prize Winners after the completion of the Final Round.
  4. To choose the Winners of the Transcriptions Prize and BIPOC Prize.

All prizes will be awarded and the decisions of the Jury will be final. 

 The criteria for choosing the winning Competitors are: 

  1. The winning Competitors should be ready to take full advantage of an international performing career and be devoted to maintaining the rich legacy of the viola, its literature, and advancing the careers of future violists.
  1. The winning Competitor should have an abundance of technical skill and a unique artistic voice and presence. 

The Jury Chairman has the right at any time to remind the Jury of the criteria that the competition has established for choosing the winning Competitors, in order to maintain the integrity of the process. The Jury Chairman may also invite discussion at any time during the voting sessions after votes by Secret Ballot have been submitted. In the unlikely case that a Juror votes in a fashion that compromises the integrity of the process, the Jury Chairman may decide not to include some or all of that Juror’s scores. Jurors are required to attend all live rounds of the Competition and are also expected to be present at the Jury Introduction meeting.  

Any juror having a familial relationship or a current or former teaching/professional relationship with a competitor must notify the Jury Chairman prior to the start of the competition. The Jury Chairman may rule that the Juror (called Juror A) is ineligible to vote for a particular Competitor because of such relationship. In that case, the Official Mathematician evaluates the Competitor’s ranking as if Juror A had not scored any of the Competitors. The Official Mathematician will then assign Juror A a score to the Competitor that will maintain the same ranking when all jurors are involved in the ranking procedure. This procedure preserves the integrity of the scoring and ranking process, both for the Competitor concerned and for all other competing Competitors. Any direct, personal contact between jurors and competitors is expressly forbidden while the Competitors are actively involved in the Competition. To avoid undue influence, Jurors must not communicate their views of performances and of participating Competitors with anyone else, including other Jurors, at any time during the competition. The only time these opinions are to be shared is in Jury discussions during the Jury sessions. Jurors must refrain from interacting with media members, including bloggers and advocacy groups, during the course of the Competition. If Jurors are approached by media representatives, they should refer them to the Colburn School’s Communications department. 

Quarter-Final and Semi-Final Rounds 

  • Ballots will be distributed at the conclusion of the Quarter-Final Round and the Semi-Final Round. 
  • After voting is completed, all completed ballots will be submitted to the Jury Chairman and voting administrators. The ballots will then be tabulated under the scrutiny of mathematician Dr. Moshe Renert.
  • In the event of a tie, a second ballot will be held to select the number of competitors equivalent to the number of remaining slot(s). In the event of a further tie, a discussion may ensue to finalize the list of competitors advancing to the subsequent round. 
  • Results will be announced by the Jury Chairman in alphabetical order. 

Transcriptions & Illumination Prize  

  • Ballots will be distributed at the conclusion of the Semi-Final Round to determine the winner of the “Transcriptions Prize” and “Illumination Prize.” Each juror shall submit the name of one competitor for the Prize. In the event that a clear majority is not achieved, a second ballot shall be held to decide between the two competitors with the most votes. In the event of a further tie, a discussion may ensue to determine the winner of the Prize. The winner of the Transcriptions Prize will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 22, 2024. 

Audience Award  

Members of the audience are welcome to vote for their favorite competitor in the Final Round. Voting will be done online and audience members can access the online portal via QR code. Each audience member will place a single vote for their favorite competitor. The competitor with the most votes will be awarded the Audience Prize at the Awards Ceremony on June 22, 2024.