Primrose International Viola Competition and American Viola Society Festival 2018 To Take Place This Week in Los Angeles

June 11, 2018, 10:33 AM · LOS ANGELES - Violists are gathering this week in Los Angeles for two major events that will take place simultaneously at the Colburn School: The Primrose International Viola Competition (June 12-16) and the American Viola Society Festival 2018 (June 13-16).

If you are in the area and wish to go, click here for information on getting an overall pass to all events, or more specific passes for those events you wish to attend.

If you can't be there, no worries -- I'll be there! So check this week and next for updates on the competition as well as articles about the festival's master classes, concerts, lectures, workshops, seminars, performances and exhibits. If you wish to watch the Primrose competition, the rounds will be live-streamed on the Primrose competition's Facebook page (click here).

Primrose Competition 2018
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For the Primrose competition, 24 violists were selected from more than 150 entrants to compete in live rounds at the Colburn School's Zipper Hall. Quarter finals will take place Tuesday and Wednesday; with a semi-final round Thursday. Finals will take place Saturday, when contestants will play with cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Jon Nakamatsu for a Chamber Music Round in the morning; then they will play with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for the Concerto Round in the evening, with the awards ceremony directly following. (Scroll down this page for specific times.) Jury members for 2018 include Lynn Harrell (Chairman), Roland Glassl, Kazuhide Isomura, Jon Nakamatsu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Xidi Shen, Lars Anders Tomter. Prizes include a $15,000 First Prize; $10,000 Second Prize; $5,000 Third Prize; and $1,000 Transcriptions Prize.

The American Viola Society Festival will feature established and emerging violists in concerts, competitions, masterclasses, lectures, workshops, seminars, and exhibits, with some 80 festival presenters. Featured guest artists include Atar Arad, David Dalton, Roland Glassl, Kazuhide Isomura, Garth Knox, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Xidi Shen, and Lars Anders Tomter. Among the topics to be explored: research on new and lesser-known compositions; workshops and masterclasses on viola technique; a competitive AVS Orchestral Audition Seminar; the AVS Youth Solo Competition and Youth Ensemble Invitational; Premiere of a viola ensemble work by Garth Knox, commissioned especially for the festival by the American Viola Society; and vendor exhibits with instruments, accessories, scores, and more. Click here for a full schedule of events.

I'm looking forward to a week of viola immersion -- watch for a lot of viola stories on, this week and next!

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William PrimroseFor those who are curious about William Primrose (1904-1982), the violist for whom this competition is named: he was a Scottish violist and teacher who studied violin with Eugène Ysaÿe and switched to viola. He played viola in the London String Quartet and in the NBC Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. His Primrose Quartet included Oscar Shumsky (later Joseph Fuchs), Josef Gingold and Harvey Shapiro; and he also collaborated with Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky. The Primrose International Viola Competition is a triennial event sponsored by the American Viola Society. It was created in 1979.

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June 16, 2018 at 04:11 PM · To ~ Laurie Niles of

Dear Laurie,

Thank you for posting an early sort of mid-aged photograph of the Greatest Violist since Lionel Tertis, (also British in origin), William Primrose, who was at first a Violinist - making his way when providence intervened, in that Jascha Heifetz, my violin mentor, once mentioned advising young Primrose 'to switch to Viola', which he did & the rest is History! It's my own saddened feeling many younger Violist's and/or concert goer's, are in 'the Dark' about the global scope & reach of Mr. Primrose's elite 5+ decades concert performing/recording & teaching career ~

Whilst studying with Mr. Heifetz at USC's 'Institute for Special Music Studies', established/created for Heifetz, great 'Cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky & renowned Violist, William Primrose, we had Chamber Music on Friday afternoon's w/ All Three fabled artist's! Primrose, being quite modest, never tried drawing the spotlight to himself, but was as great a Violist, (IMO), as was 'Cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky & close to Jascha Heifetz! Having again listened to a glorious recording of Mozart's Symphonia Concertante with Mr.'s Heifetz (violin) & Primrose (viola) one hears 'Heifetzian'- like perfected technique & the platinum musicality of William Primrose, which tells the entire story of their musical alliance over many decades with both concert career's at their Peak's ~

The reason for filling in some musical background is in seeing no responses to your previous posts to draw attention to this most significant International Viola Competition in the World ~ I suppose one must have had to be "There" to write about Mr. Primrose and what was a fabled musical career ~ Just for the record, Mr. Primrose was a marvellous teacher & mentor to all artist pupil Violist's whom he accepted for advanced studies at USC's Institute for Special Music Studies in Los Angeles & due to declining health with his marriage to his Mormon born wife, moved from L.A. to Provo in Utah, and was duly honoured as Master Artist Viola Professor at Brigham Young University/ Provo, also being the Dedicatee of Merrill Bradshaw's Viola Concerto, premiered by Brigham Young University's Concert Orchestra, about 2 & 1/2 years prior to the World Premiere of the Bradshaw Violin Concerto in March, 1981, and dedicated to the Memory of my father, Ralph Matesky, & composed for yours truly, to which Mr. Primrose added his 'Thumbs Up' at our dress rehearsal & PBS televised Concert! It would be the last time I saw William Primrose, but a glorious 'reunion' on March 5, 1981, with Primrose then writing to Sir Georg Solti, expressing admiration of both the Viola & Violin Concerto's of Dr. Merrill Bradshaw, which he felt Solti might program on the 1983 CSO concert season, recommending his viola pupil, Richard Ferrin, perform the Solo Viola part, & myself as violin soloist in the Bradshaw Violin Concerto ~ Maestro Solti was keen, & when writing back to Mr. Primrose & myself expressed his intent with a future meeting in Chicago.

Very sadly, Mr. Primrose passed away less than 1 year later, in 1982, in his Provo, Utah, home. (Btw, some other works for Viola were written/dedicated to him which he performed earlier on in his career.) He is sadly missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to have studied with & performed Chamber Music w/Heifetz, Piatigorsky & WP, knowing & revering a grand artist & Violist, William Primrose, which The Primrose International Viola Competition honours w/his platinum name ~

May the Final's on this day, Saturday, June 16, 2018, bring forth the most musically-technically & spiritually feeling young Violists', whilst paying Homage to the Twentieth Century Greatest Violist of All Time - born just 'across the pond' ...

Reverently submitted by ~

Elisabeth Matesky (Heifetz pupil & JH/ GP/ William Primrose Chamber Music Pupil-Friend)

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