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Tennessee Cello Workshop

February 26-28, 2021


TCW Cello Competitions

NNOTE: We will definitely hold the TCW competitions in 2021. Due to the covid-19 pandemic our 2021 competitions will be held completely online through live zoom performances. Additionally, due to logistical limitations, finalists will perform without piano accompaniment.


The TCW Cello Competitions are meant to provide inspiration, stimulation, enjoyment, and encouragement to all who enter and all who attend the finalists' performances. The process of preparing the required literature to the highest level one can is of great value. The opportunity to have a chance to perform and get written feedback from members of the TCW faculty can also be enormously helpful for participants. The finalists' concert on Sunday provides performers and audience members alike wonderful opportunities for shared musical experiences. Finally, for those who receive awards, the competitions provide tangible assistance in the winners' journeys with cello playing and music making, as well as public validation and encouragement for the excellence they have achieved in these arenas.

The TCW hosts four different cello competitions. You must be a registered for the full 3-day TCW to enter one of the TCW Cello Competitions. Many TCW participants will not enter the competition. Many will. This is only a part of the weekend, and isn't meant to distract from, or discourage any from attending, any of the other events at the TCW.

For all divisions of the TCW competitions, the preliminary rounds Friday morning are without accompaniment. For the final rounds, TCW staff pianists will be provided for all finalists.

Participating in any of the four TCW Cello Competitions entails a 25$ entry fee, in addition to the regular TCW registration.


The four categories for the TCW Cello Competitions are based on the contestant's age on February 28, 2021. Previous first prize-winners (or co-first prize-winners) may not reenter in the same category in subsequent years’ TCW cello competitions. Entrants may elect to enter a competition for an older age group than they are eligible for. Thus, if you have one first prize in the junior or high school competitions and wish to, you can enter a higher level TCW cello competition, provided you haven’t won first prize in that competition level previously. The literature for the competition division entered, however, will be the required literature.

  1. Junior Division: cellists age 14 and younger.
  2. Senior High School Division: cellists age 15 through 18, and not yet graduated from high school.
  3. Collegiate and Professional Division: age 17 through 26.
  4. UN-competition category: any age or level.
    • This division is for anyone--from adult amateur to young cellist--who would like the experience of preparing for the competition, and performing for the panel of faculty jurors, without the competition element in the equation. Cellists participating in the “uncompetition” will still get written comments from the evaluators, and will have the chance to put themselves "on the line" for this private performance.
  5. Note: in the event that fewer than five contestants enter any division of the TCW cello competition, that division will not hold a competition. Those contestants will automatically be  scheduled to play in the “uncompetition.”

Preliminary Round

  • All competition entrants will play a preliminary audition on Friday, February 26, 2021, starting in the morning. This round will be held without piano accompaniment.
  • Written comments on all performances will be provided to all who perform in the preliminary round. TCW guest artists and faculty will be listening and evaluating these performances.
  • Based on the morning performances, up to 3 finalists in each division will be selected to perform in the Competition Finals, which will be held as a public recital on Sunday, March 1, 2020.
  • Entrants are encouraged, but not required, to perform from memory for all rounds of the competition.
  • Abusive or disrespectful treatment of staff pianists or jurors by competitors, their teachers or parents may result in dismissal from the competition.
  • Any of the four divisions’ competitions may be cancelled, if the number of applicants in that division is insufficient for a meaningful competition.
  • In the event that co-prize winners are selected, the prize monies for those prize winners will be altered. For example, if there are co-first prize winners, those winners will split the prize money for the 1st and 2nd prizes in their division.
  • The TCW will not be responsible for any tax obligations that prize winners’ entail.

Competition Prizes

In the interest of aiding young cellists in their musical studies, and in keeping the prize sponsors' wishes, all financial prizes are intended to be used as scholarships for summer music camps or collegiate study. The jury may elect to award only some of these prizes. Not all prizes are guaranteed to be awarded.

  1. All finalists: recital performance on final day of the 2021 Tennessee Cello Workshop.
  2. All finalists: 100$ Scholarship towards the 2022 Tennessee Cello Workshop.
  3. Junior High School division: $300, $200, $100
  4. High School Division: $600, $300, $150 
    Prizes generously donated by Wilhite Strings
  5. Collegiate/Young Professional Division: $1,200, $600, $300
  6. Un-competition: great personal satisfaction
  7. Special prizes: a $1000 Scholarship to the 2021 Wintergreen Academy 
    This prize is dependent upon acceptance at the Wintergreen Academy, and can be awarded to a High School or Collegiate Finalist who might gain the most from study at the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy.
  8. The competition prizewinners will be announced at the final awards presentation and cello orchestra concert on February 28, 2021.
  9. NOTE: for the 2021 TCW competitions there will be no special bow prize possible.

Repertoire Requirements

Junior Division

  • Henri Eccles: Sonata in G minor; movements 1 and 2
  • Han-Ki Kim:  Korean Simple Suite No. 1 Op. 267; movements 1 and 2
    (available from

High School division

  • E. Elgar: Concerto in E minor; movements 1 and 2 
  • Tania Leon: Four Pieces for Solo cello; movement 2: Lento doloroso, sempre cantabile

Collegiate/Young Professional division

  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1; movements 1 and 2 
  • Sofia Gubaidulina: 10 Preludes for solo cello; Preludes 1,2, and 3


  • A program of no more than 12 minutes of music of your own choosing

Deadlines and Entry Requirements

To enter the TCW cello competitions one must:

  • Submit your online TCW registration form with your desire to participate in the competition indicated on that form.
  • At the payment/checkout page, make sure to include the competition fee along with the participation fee.
  • Proof of age will be required of all finalists on Friday night. Please bring appropriate documentation to confirm your age with you to the TCW.

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