Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition 2017

 18-24 November 2017

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University and the British Viola Society are delighted to announce the second CECIL ARONOWITZ VIOLA COMPETITION, which will be held from 18-24 November 2017.

The Competition is open to violists from anywhere in the world who will be age 21 or under at the time of the competition.

A total of 69 applications have been received from 20 countries.


The programme for the week is HERE


PRIZES: Winner will be awarded the Cecil Aronowitz Prize of £5000 and several high profile recitals as part of Birmingham Conservatoire’s Concert Series.

1st Prize

Birmingham City University, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – £5000;

Champs Hill Records Prize Recording contract;

CBSO Prize –  to be confirmed.

2nd PrizeLionel Tertis Prize – £3000

3rd PrizeGwyn Williams Charitable Trust Prize – £1000

Other prizes include: 

Paul Ayres Prize – For the most promising competitor 18 years and under: A silver mounted Brazilian pernambuco viola bow by Jackson Fornaciari worth £950

Bishop Instruments and Bows Ltd Prize – For the most outstanding performance of a sonata in Round 3: A silver mounted viola bow by Pierre Guillaume worth £5000

Fuller Music Prize – For the best performance of Kreisler pieces in Round 2: £250

Noel Burke and Neil Ertz Memorial Prize – For the Best Performance of Bach in Round 2: £400


PartPlay – One months free unlimited subscription to everyone attending the CAIVC and a full unlimited annual subscription for every semi-finalist


ESTA – Free annual membership to the those in the Final Round of the competition. Discounted membership to everyone attending the CAIVC.


Thomastik– Each of the twenty-nine semi-finalists will be awarded a set of Infeld Pi200 strings (£130.00 retail a set).



1. All competitors must be age 21 or under at the time of the competition

2. All competitors must be members of the British Viola Society. Link to join here: http://www.britishviolasociety.co.uk/support/join/

3. Competitors of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.





1. The repertory information for Round 2 and 3 for participants that successfully advance beyond the DVD round must be submitted to Eileen Smith (eileensmith.viola@gmail.com) by 1 September 2017.
All competitors that advance from the DVD round will play in both Rounds 2 and 3.

2. The order of appearance by the participants will be decided upon arrival. This order will remain unaltered throughout Round 2 and 3 of the Competition. Subject to repertoire choices this order might change in Round 4 (Final Round).

3. The Competition held in Birmingham will consist of three Rounds that will take place live in Birmingham, of which all will be open to the public. Round 4 is the Final Round.


1. There will be six jury members.

2. Any juror having a teaching or professional relationship with a participant must declare such relationship and will abstain from voting on the participant’s performances. No juror shall have a family relationship with a participant.

3. The jury will award all prizes

 4. The decisions of the jury are final.




  1. One movement of solo Bach from one of the Cello Suites, Violin Partitas or Sonatas
  2. Two movements from any major sonata, with piano composed after 1850 (with the exception of Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata).
  3. Any contrasting work of your own choice.

All works must be recorded with no audio or visual editing. Each required piece should be on a single track and the order and length must be included. The recording must have been produced within 12 months prior to submission. Where appropriate, works must be presented with piano. DVD should be between 15-20 minutes in length.



  1.  Two movements of solo Bach from one of the Cello Suites, Violin Partitas or Sonatas. One of these movements may be the same as Round 1, and both movements must come from the same work
  2.  First movement of Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Cadenza. Barenreiter Edition.
  3.  Kreisler Liebesleid or Rondino arranged by Cecil Aronowitz.
Music will be made available to those that progress to Round 2.

1. A complete major sonata with piano, piano composed after 1850 (with the exception of Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata).
2. Britten Lachrymae with piano
Complete concertos of Bartok, Walton or Hindemith “Der Schwanendreher”.

The competition will be held at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from mid-afternoon of 18 November and will be finished on the evening of 24 November. The competition will also feature a weekend of Recitals, Master Classes and Workshops open to the public. Programme and details are HERE



Florian Leonhard (Germany/UK)

Robin Ireland (UK)

Ettore Causa (Italy/USA)

Nicola Aronowitz (UK)

Thomas Riebl (Austria)

Bruno Giuranna (Italy)



Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is enormously grateful to all the funders and supporters of  the 2017 Cecil Aronowitz International Competition, in particular;

Arts Council England

The Rowlands Trust


For more information, contact: Eileen Smith Executive Coordinator, Cecil Aronowitz International Competition, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Email: eileensmith.viola@gmail.com

Website: www.eileensmith.co.uk



About the Competition

Launched in 2014  by the British Viola Society and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the Competition was dedicated to Cecil Aronowitz, the South African violist and long-term collaborator with Benjamin Britten.

The three-day event in 2014 was open to players under the age of 21 and saw 13 semi-finalists competing from countries including Switzerland, South Korea, Lithuania, China and Germany.

Alongside the Competition ran viola events throughout the weekend: including Viola Workshops with Ross Cohen, Masterclasses with Roger Chase; Recitals from the Jury members and displays from expert Luthiers.


 RESULTS from 2014

The four violists selected to play in the final were Tomohiro Arita from Japan, Silas Zschocke from Germany, Timothy Ridout from the UK and Violaine Despeyroux from France.

The 2014 Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition  was won by 19-year-old Timothy Ridout, a student at London’s Royal Academy of Music.  The British violist received:

  • the £2,000 first prize;
  • the Britten-Pears Award of £400 for his performance of Britten’s Lachrymae, and
  • the Bishop Instruments Award for his performance of Hindemith’s Viola Sonata op.11 no.4.

He also received two concerto performances in 2015 with the Orchestra of the Swan, as well as a November 2014 recital at the International Viola Congress in Portugal.

The Neil Ertz and Noel Burke Prize for the winning performance of solo Bach went to Violaine Despeyroux from France.

Shishi Gong from China was awarded the Ayres Violin Award for the most promising competitors aged 15 years and under.


The Shortlisted Semi-Finalists were:

Sophie de Bardonneche

Mathis Rochat

Tomohiro Arita

Yujia Liu

Shishi Gong

Yinqi Qiu

Silas Zschocke

Timothy Ridout

Jungmin Lim

Alberto Coronado Daza

Violaine Despeyroux

Zhenwei Shi

Monica Jensen

Silvia Ciuladyte

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-The jury for the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition 2014 was:

Nicola Aronowitz (UK)
Emile Cantor (Germany)
Thomas Riebl (Austria)
Adam Romer (Hungary)
Simon Rowland-Jones (UK)
Eric Rycroft (South Africa)
Dr. Louise Lansdown  was the Chairman of the Jury.