‘Olympics for viola players’ held at BYU


    By Samantha Hall

    Grammy awards lined his shelves. A star on Hollywood Boulevard bears his name. He is considered as important to his art as Michael Jordan is to basketball.

    This was all said of William Primrose, the violist who spent his latter years at BYU.

    ?Most people didn?t know what a viola was,? said Claudine Bigelow, professor of music and the head of viola studies at BYU. ?He could play it in such a way that everyone just fell in love with him and with his playing and with the instrument.?

    In honor of him, today through Saturday, Bigelow will host the 2005 Primrose Competition on campus.

    ?This is basically the Olympics for viola players,? Bigelow said. ?We have people coming from all over the world.?

    The event includes both a viola competition and a festival.

    To enter the competition, violists must be age 28 or younger. Competitors have traveled to BYU from countries such as Israel, Germany, Japan and Latvia.

    ?The person who wins this will have many doors opened to them because of this title and opportunity,? Bigelow said. ?I really think that the level of playing is going to be extremely high. I think it?s exciting to have an event that challenges the very best to come together and do their best.?

    The competition will take place throughout the week, and festival concerts will follow in the evenings. Professional violists, who are judging the competition, will participate in these concerts.

    Two BYU professors will be spotlighted in the Saturday afternoon performance. Music professors Christian Asplund and Eric Hansen will play viola and bass, respectively.

    ?We?re going to be doing some compositions that I?ve written, and then using them as sort of springboards for improvisation,? Asplund said.

    Asplund?s style of avant-garde or ?free? jazz is different than classical viola playing of other artists, Bigelow said. Students who attend the concerts are sure to hear many styles.

    ?There?s a variety of flavors for them [students] to experience,? she said. ?They?ll hear many different kinds of viola playing and that should be very exciting to be exposed to.?

    The festival aspect of the weeklong event includes lectures and master classes. Carrie Maxwell, a junior, majoring in viola performance from Provo, is giving a lecture Friday titled ?The Harold Coletta Collection? in the Harold B. Lee Library.

    ?I?m going to be talking about him [Coletta] and a collection of his memorabilia, concert programs, recordings and correspondence,? Maxwell said. ?I think it?ll be a fun and interesting experience.?

    The Harold Coletta Collection is one of many in the Primrose International Viola Archive in the HBLL, which is the largest collection of viola materials in the world, Bigelow said.

    ?I think BYU is a beacon for viola studies and research, and the archive shows that,? she said. ?We?ve got some really neat and exciting things going on to share.?

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