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September 2019 Newsletter

Dear BVS Members,

Your BVS Team has seemed a little quiet for a while, all because we have been working hard on a new BVS website over many months! We are delighted to be able to introduce it to you very soon - watch this space!

There will be several new sections and additions to our website, so I hope you’ll enjoy clicking on everything and looking at the information. We are also delighted to have a special tab dedicated to Timothy Ridout who has agreed to keep us updated on his viola activities and experiences - thank you Tim.

The 46th International Viola Congress takes place next week in Poznan, and unusually the BVS is not represented. We did ask you all if anyone would like to go to Poland to make a presentation, but it's bad timing being the start of the academic year for most of us. If you would like to see the detailed programme and events please look at

The next Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition will be from 14-20 November 2020 - more details and official publicity to follow soon. ​

Below are some images from the 2017 competition - Cecil to the  left and the overall winner,  Emma Wernig, top right and  all the finalists below.

We are incredibly proud of one of our BVS members and Cecil Aronowitz prizewinner: Yue Yu (photo left) has just recorded her debut CD with Anthony Hewitt (piano) and Jeffrey Armstrong (violin) for NAXOS - a disc including lesser known works by Bowen, Britten and Holst. Yue recorded the disc from 9-11 September in the Bradshaw Hall at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the disc is due to come out in 2020.

There is a taster of the CD with Yue Yu playing Bowen's Romance in Db and her account of the recording process immediately after my introduction.

Just to update you all on the ARCO Project and in particular the development of our violists. ARCO teachers from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire spent several weeks in South Africa in July, working initially with all of the ARCO students for a week and then spending an extra week working with just the violists and double bassists on a "What it Takes" course organised by the South African National Youth Orchestra – a time for detailed individual work and for learning instrument-specific information.

Photos below of the students during the course

Thank you to Janet Pazio for another most entertaining blog relating tales of walking adventures alongside serious summer music, notably at the Benslow Summer School directed by Martin Outram as well as music making with friends . 

We are delighted to bring you more reports from the Benslow Summer School - a big thank you to Geoffrey Taylor and Cian McGarry, and  I am  also thrilled to include news from one of our younger members, Ava Brûlé-Walker, who has given herself  the '100 days of  practice' challenge.

 I was lucky to be able to spend two weeks in the beautiful town of Sant'Agata Feltria in Italy in August teaching a fabulous class of eight viola students on Quattro Corde The festival is an amazing time to focus on music without distraction and to work each day with students with daily performances and time with wonderful pianists, and in a fantastically collegial atmosphere. Thanks to Daisy, Yuxin, Mitzi, Alma, Peter, Emily, Thomas and Rosamund who made it such a memorable time.

I returned to South Africa at the start of September. It was immensely exciting to travel with eight of our young ARCO Students to the "Voorkamerfest" (Front Room Festival) in the small town of Darling, around 80 km north of Cape Town.

Photo below of the ARCO students

 The ARCO students did 12 shows during the course of the weekend and were the youngest performers there. In particular our violist Lindo Buthelezi was a real star - here he is (photo left) sporting our new ARCO T-shirt especially made for the trip. Thanks to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for sponsoring these T-shirts.

Straight from South Africa, I travelled to Chennai in India to work with the Sunshine Orchestra, started almost 10 years ago by the Bollywood music sensation A.R Rahman.

What an experience! A group of around 15 string players who have never had one-to-one lessons and who have learnt a wealth of knowledge all together in their group. They play a mixture of Bollywood Film Music and Classical Music, and work incredibly hard. I believe they rehearse seven days a week from 10.00-17.00. The four violists of the Sunshine Orchestra were a joy to work with! ​

Photos below

Top- the Sunshine orchestra with their guru and conductor, Murthy

Right and left - me working with the orchestra

So this is just a little news update for you all, and lots of warm viola wishes coming your way! Please send us your news and viola information - we really want to hear from you.

Louise Lansdown and the BVS Team

Yue Yu's first recording
A clip from the recording session with Yue Yu playing Bowen's Romance in Db.

This audio clip was made during the three days Yue Yu was working with pianist Anthony Hewitt, violinist Jeffrey Armstrong and producer Raphaël Mouterde, for her first personal album with Naxos Records Label. 

Yue Yu has written for us about her first recording experiences. Her CD will include many short pieces by York Bowen like the Melodies and Romances, Allegro De Concert, unpublished Three Duos for violin and viola, and a not very often-heard big late work - Rhapsody for viola & piano. 

Read more
News from Janet Pazio

This month Janet has written an amazing blog which will make most people feel tired after reading about her summer activities.  In between many miles of walking she has had time for  lots of serious music making, including the Benslow viola  summer school (also see below) and playing with friends.

Read all about Janet's experiences  here

International Viola Summer School with Martin Outram

In July Benslow Music hosted the annual International Viola Summer School directed by Martin Outram. Janet writes enthusiastically about the course in this month's blog.

We  share with you reports from two other participants on the course -  student Cian MacGarry  and Geoffrey Taylor here along with a couple of  photos of  Martin the viola 'magician' teaching.

News from our BVSY membership
Ava Brûlé-Walker #100daysofpractice

Read more about Ava's challenge here

Grace Ramsey's summer

Grace (second left) writes about a magical summer full of music and outdoor activities. Read here

Gwyn Williams Bursary Fund
The fund supports young violists at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire ( RBC). Sunday May 5 2019 saw the second Gwyn Williams Bursary Concert given in the magnificent Bradshaw Hall at the RBC. 

Read more here
"More than a dull ripieno"
Recording of the Sonatas for Viola and keyboard by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Gottlieb Graun, Felice Giardini, William Flackton and Johann Gottlieb Janitsch.

The Italian Baroque violist Francesca Venturi Ferriolo has plans to record a CD  of these 18th century viola sonatas and is seeking to cover the costs through a crowdfunding campaign:

Perhaps some of the members of the BVS would be  interested to support her enterprise?

It should be also possible to preorder CDs via the following email address:

Viola courses and opportunities for young players
Senior Arpeggione (residential in Suffolk) 20th-24th Oct 2019

For viola players aged 14-19 years and violinists wishing to try the viola (Grade 8 and above) . £525
For more information please

Viola Workshop

Promoting the viola and improving the standard of playing. Tutor  Robin Ireland

Saturday 16 November 2019 9.30 - 6pm

Further details are on the website here

Viola Day

Benslow Music

Sunday  16 February 2020
Tutors: Martin Outram, Julian Rolton

More details on the website here

Concert news

Reduced tickets for BVS members - just ask at desk

Members' Adverts
Violas for Sale . Just added - viola by Ernest Voigt in Tertis style, made in 1957
View all
Membership Benefits
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2018-19 Concert Season

10% off all 2018-19 Season Symphony Hall concerts.

Use  the code CBGT1819 online, on the phone, or in person at the Box Office.

British Viola Society

c/o Royal Birmingham Conservatiore, 200 Jennens Road, Birmingham
United Kingdom

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