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2021 Primrose International Viola Competition Announces Live Round Competitors

This year's edition of the Primrose International Viola Competition will be held from December 13 to 18, 2021 — with all live rounds streamed on The Violin Channel


The Colburn School in Los Angeles announced the 24 competitors that will play in the live round of this year's Primrose International Viola Competition.

Established in 1979, and named after the prominent viola virtuoso William Primrose, it is the first-ever competition presented for exclusively viola players. Open to violists of any nationality 29 years and younger, the first prize winner will receive USD $15,000. 

Each of the live round participants will compete in the Quarter-Final Round on December 13 and 14, 2021. Eight competitors will advance to the Semi-Final Round, taking place on December 16, 2021.

This year, the competition will require quarter-finalists to present at least one work by a BIPOC composer, alongside other works of their own choice.

At the semi-final stage, the repertoire will be comprised of a mixture of the candidates' own choices (including original works) and set works. The final will require the last three candidates to present either the Bartók (Serly) Viola Concerto or the Walton Viola Concerto, accompanied by the Colburn Orchestra and Salonen Conducting Fellow Kyle Dickson.

In 2021, the competition received 103 applications; this list has now been whittled down to 24 candidates. They range in age from 18 to 29, and hail from ten different countries. The list is as follows:

  • Keoni Bolding (24, United States)

  • Danielle Wiebe Burke (29, Canada)

  • Hannah Burnett (23, United States)

  • Chih-Ta Chen (23, Taiwan)

  • Soyoung Cho (23, South Korea)

  • Karolina Errera (28, Russia)

  • Sara Ferrández (26, Spain)

  • Yitong Guo (28, China)

  • Brian Isaacs (21, United States)

  • Jiwon Kim (21, South Korea)

  • Sengyun Kim (28, South Korea)

  • Eunbin Lee (18, South Korea)

  • Yizilin Liang (20, China)

  • Natalie Loughran (24, United States)

  • Andy Park (20, United States/South Korea)

  • Mathis Rochat (27, France/Switzerland)

  • Samuel Rosenthal (21, United States)

  • Ursula Steele (25, United States)

  • Nicholas Swensen (22, Denmark/United States)

  • Semin Yim (18, South Korea)

  • Mingyue Yu (21, China)

  • Emiko Yuasa (26, Japan)

  • Sohui Yun (26, South Korea)

  • Chuxuejie Zhang (25, China)


The jury will include Barry Shiffman (Chairman), Andrés Cárdenes, Victoria Chiang, Daniel Heifetz, Mai Motobuchi, Dimitri Murrath, and Chauncey Patterson.

First, second, and third prizes will consist of $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000 respectively, while the winner of the BIPOC prize will be awarded $1,000.

The first prize winner will also perform at the 2022 American Viola Society Festival and 47th International Viola Congress in June 2022.

“After a prolonged period of closure, it is especially meaningful this year to be able to present, in-person, the Primrose International Viola Competition in collaboration with the American Viola Society,” said Sel Kardan, the President and CEO of the Colburn School.

“As we prepare for the 16th international competition honoring the legacy of William Primrose, we look forward to hearing the next top soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players, and pedagogues on campus. These talented young musicians are an inspiration and testament to perseverance during the challenging pandemic period, and this will undoubtedly be an uplifting week of music and celebration.”

"The American Viola Society established the Primrose International Viola Competition in 1979 to recognize and encourage extraordinary young violists,” said Hillary Herndon, the President of the American Viola Society. “We are thrilled that Colburn will once again host this prominent event, and are looking forward to hearing these 24 violists live."

All rounds of this year's competition will be streamed live on The Violin Channel. You won't miss a beat.

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