Viola virtuosos to flock for festival

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THE 11th Lionel Tertis International Viola Festival and Competition begins on Saturday and will see viola players from all over the world competing in the Erin Arts Centre in Port Erin.

As well as the 42 competitors who come from countries as diverse as the USA, Japan, South Korea, Finland and Ireland, world-renowned Russian viola maestro Yuri Bashmet, president of the festival, will return to be a member of the judging panel, to lead a masterclass and to give a recital.

The competition, which honours ‘the greatest viola player’ the late Lionel Tertis, is held every three years and supported by the Tertis Foundation and the Isle of Man Arts Council.

Festival director John Bethell, of the Erin Arts Centre, said: ‘The island really has to be very proud of this competition.

‘The island is publicised all over the world as a result - every conservatoire and music school worldwide receives information for both this and the oboe competition held here in Port Erin.

‘Just the fact that Yuri Bashmet is on the jury draws people alone.’

Mr Bashmet added: ‘To those who are attending the week’s festival and all the events taking place in this “the Viola capital of the world” here in Port Erin, I wish you good luck and inspiration.’

President of Tynwald Clare Christian will present the cash prizes, donated by some of the festival sponsors.

Every Tertis Festival the centre commissions a new piece of work for the double bass, harp, viola and oboe to be played by the competitors.

This year Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has composed Six Sorano Variants for Solo Viola.

The world premiere will take place when the three finalists play it on the last day, Saturday, March 23. The winner is then invited to play it at the Wigmore Hall Recital in London. They will also play with the London Philharmonia Orchestra.

The week includes a range of masterclasses, lectures and recitals.

All young island musicians are invited to attend any of the events for free.

The Lieutenant Governor will attend some events.

Mr Bethell was asked to take over the festival in 1980 by Ruth Lady Fermoy, Princess Diana’s grandmother and the Queen Mother’s lady in waiting, after it couldn’t get off the ground in London.

For the first time the festival acivities will be recorded onto video for prosterity. For a full programme visit www.erinartscentre.com or call 835858.

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