International viola competition announced for new Conservatoire


Young violists from around the world are being encouraged to apply for an international competition taking place next year in Birmingham. 

The second Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition will also be the first major competition to take place in Birmingham Conservatoire’s new £57 million home, currently under construction in the Eastside region of the City. 

Hosted in conjunction with the British Viola Society and Birmingham Music Service, the competition is named after acclaimed South African violist, Cecil Aronowitz. 

Cecil Aronowitz Viola Competition

Birmingham City University

As well as being a leading chamber musician and long-term collaborator with Benjamin Britten, Cecil was a founding member of the Melos Ensemble and taught at both the Royal College of Music and, later, at the Royal Northern College of Music. 

'A supremely modest man'

Cecil’s wife, Nicola Aronowitz, is a member of the jury for next year’s competition. She said: 

“We as a family were thrilled at the success of the first Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and are delighted that the second one will be happening in 2017. Cecil –
a supremely modest man – would have been truly honoured that a competition should be named after him. And yet if he thought about it, he would realise how fitting it is. 

“He often used to quote the title of violist Lionel Tertis’s autobiography, ‘Cinderella No More’. A competition such as this will help ensure that the viola remains in the thick of and at the forefront of musical life around the world.” 

Open to all violists under 21

Dr. Louise Lansdown is Head of Strings at Birmingham Conservatoire. She said: 

“We are delighted to announce the second Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, which will be held in the new Birmingham Conservatoire from 18th to 24th November 2017. 

“The who’s who of the viola world will be in Birmingham for this event, including the inaugural winner from 2014, Timothy Ridout.” 

Organisers are also planning a series of events to run alongside the competition that will immerse hundreds of children from Birmingham schools in workshops, UK conservatoire students in masterclasses, public recitals from jury members and displays from luthiers – all taking place in the institution’s new building. 

New Birmingham Conservatoire

Part of Birmingham City University, the new Birmingham Conservatoire will be a unique contemporary building, incorporating five public performance spaces including a new 496 seat concert hall for orchestral training and performance, private rehearsal and practice rooms, and teaching spaces for musicians from a variety of disciplines. 

Furthermore, as the first purpose built conservatoire in the UK since 1987, it will be the only one of its kind in the country designed for the demands of the digital age. It will also be home to Birmingham’s only dedicated jazz venue. 

The inaugural Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition in 2014 saw 13 semi-finalists competing over three days from countries including China, Germany, Lithuania, South Korea and Switzerland. 

19-year-old Timothy Ridout, a student at London’s Royal Academy of Music, was crowned the inaugural winner. He said: 

“The Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition was a huge opportunity for me. I learnt a great deal from the experience, and my success there was the first major step towards launching a career.”

Full details on how to apply for the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition 2017 can be found on the Birmingham Conservatoire website

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