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UT Viola Celebration

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Click on the questions below to learn more.

The UT Viola Celebration started 13 years ago as a free event.  In that first year, we had 2 guest teachers and UT was able to cover most faculty expenses as a public service to the musical community.
Since our inaugural event, the Celebration has grown to include 100 participants each year, offer more than 40 master class spots and boasts a large guest faculty of prominent violists.  Faculty travel from all over the country to participate in this event, and they have been doing this largely without compensation or travel allowance.
We started charging a modest fee  5 years ago, but as costs have risen and the amount subsidized by the University has fallen, we’ve needed to become more self-sufficient.  The registration fees allow us to help defray the travel costs of the wonderful violists who generously share their time with student violists during the Viola Celebration. 

While we are charging more this year, you will also hopefully notice that we are including some things in the registration instead of charging a la carte as in previous years – the pizza lunch with faculty and the addition of a t-shirt for every participant who registers by October 21 (the date we need to submit the order).

We love it when your register early! It allows us to plan better; to this end we encourage you to register by October 15 by giving you a price break on the registration fee. The fee will go up after October 15, so make sure to register early to get the best deal!

Make sure to follow the link to pay your registration fee at the UT School of Music store.  Once you’ve completed your registration and paid, you are set!

An email packet with a detailed schedule and information will be sent in the last week of October.

Master Class assignments will be made as soon as possible.  You will be contacted directly with pertinent information if applicable.

We are not offering Faculty Duets for Viola Celebration 2019. Given the nature of this special topic weekend, the schedule is quite different, and there was not room for it - nor is there a Final Concert to perform the duos on! Rest assured though that the Duo prizes will be back for 2020!

At this year's Viola Celebration we will offer several mock auditions for students to practice their audition skills. Students should prepare repertoire that is most applicable to their own needs at the time; for example, a student preparing for College Auditions should bring the rep that they plan to audition for college with. A student working on professional orchestral auditions should prepare several excepts. Students who are working to do better in their orchestra seating auditions can prepare a list for All East auditions, etc. In all cases, the students will be able to play a mock audition, get feedback immediately from the committee, and then will have the opportunity to play again later in the session to try and improve on their audition taking skills. To this end, WHAT you play is less important that playing something and going through the process. Of course, you can also opt to observe and learn rather than participate directly if you prefer.

This year we will offer 7 specific orchestral excerpt classes: Tchaikovsky #6, Mozart #35, Beethoven #5, Mendelssohn Scherzo, Shostakovich #5, Don Juan and Berlioz Roman Carnvial. The teachers will give practice suggestions, fingerings, bowings, work with the group as a whole to get an introduction to the piece, and there will be time for individuals to play for comments if they have prepared the excerpts in advance. It is highly recommended that each student at this level prepare 2-3 excerpts from the above list so they can get direct feedback from our wonderful faculty!

A Master Class is a public lesson.  The student will first perform a movement for the Master Teacher and audience.  After the performance, the teacher will work with the student on ways to improve.  These events allow for everyone in attendance to learn from the Master Teacher as well as the performing student to get first hand information from a new source. 

The Advanced Master Classes are intended for students who have been studying viola privately for several years and are at a fairly advanced level.  It is recommended that students who request Advanced Master Classes have been to a previous master class as an observer.  This recommendation is for the comfort of the student – this public lesson situation can be intense for students who have never been introduced to the concept.  Advanced classes are 30-minute sessions for each performer.

The Introductory Master Class is intended for students who have less experience.  These classes will be less intense and allow students to perform for a teacher in a less stressful environment.  These sessions will be shorter – approximately 15 to 20 minutes long.  The Introductory classes are recommended for students who are performing solo works in the Suzuki Books 1-3 or equivalent level.  Students who do not normally take private lessons or are younger than 13 that wish to perform in a master class will likely be assigned an Introductory Class. 

Yes!  All master classes are open to registered participants to observe.  The class fee is only required of those performing for the master teacher individually.

Master Classes are assigned according to a number of criteria including age, ability, repertoire, date of registration and previous Viola Celebration assignments.  Every effort is made to allow those interested in playing for a master class the opportunity to do so, as well as to honor the request for the level of class.  However, as space is limited, it is possible that you will not receive the level of class requested or be wait-listed for a master class spot.  Early registration is the best way to assure your spot!

No.  It is encouraged that you use a pianist unless you will perform an unaccompanied work.  However, it is not required that you use a pianist for an accompanied piece.

Typically, the piano scores for the Advanced Master Classes are much more difficult and will require more personal study time by the pianist and more rehearsal time for the student and pianist together.  The pricing for the pianists reflects this difference. 

The Advanced Master Class pianist fee is $50.  This will include a 30-minute rehearsal time prior to your master class.

For those playing in the Introductory Master Class, the pianist fee is $20. This will include a short 5-10 minute run-through prior to the class. 

Rehearsals will be scheduled on an individual basis as soon as pianists are assigned.  These will typically be in the mornings between 8-10, during lunch breaks and on Saturday after 4pm.  A few students might be requested to rehearse on Friday evening, depending on availability.  You will be contacted directly with your rehearsal time. 

Yes, you can!  Please indicate this on your registration form.

Yes!  The Viola Celebration is a great way to inspire your beginning violist by surrounding them with violists of all ages and abilities.  There are activities to include every level of violist through the weekend.

The Viola Celebration Website has a list of area hotels and restaurants.  If driving or renting a car while in Knoxville, discount sites such as are recommended to find the best price on a hotel.  It is recommended that you rent a car while in Knoxville, or book one of the hotels listed as within walking distance to UT on the Viola Celebration website.  The UT Viola Celebration Staff are not able pick you up at the airport or book your room for you.

The concert is purposely scheduled early on Sunday to allow for those driving to leave before it gets too late.  The concert should be over by 5pm.  Please plan on staying for the concert as the ensemble sections have been balanced and anyone leaving early will be disruptive to the quality of the performance.

The scroll is from an instrument made by Mark Jennings, based upon a viola made by Andrea Guarneri C1696. Mark Jennings is a violin, viola & cello maker in Cornwall, England.

This class will help students preparing for All East auditions get a head start on the audition material. There will be sections for both the 9-10 and 11-12 grade levels and will look at the required excerpts as well as the scales that should be prepared.

To help you learn how to take auditions better, we will offer discussions with tips prior to holding mock auditions for three different scenarios: Seating Auditions/Concerto Competition, College Auditions and Professional Orchestra Auditions.  

In each Mock Audition, students will be able to play for a jury of the faculty, and then will receive immediate comments on how they can improve. Students are encouraged to play their mock audition again later in the session so that they can try to implement their suggestions in a second try.

To participate, please bring something prepared to play (i.e.  for the seating audition, perhaps an excerpt of a piece you’ve recently used in orchestra. For Concerto competition, an excerpt of a concerto you are working on. For a Professional Audition, an excerpt from a concerto and 2-3 excerpts). If there is a specific audition coming up, bring that repertoire! Otherwise, the specific details of what you play is less important than the practice at performing a small section of something to the best of your ability in an audition format.

For students who are wanting to learn and prepare orchestral excerpts, we will have classes on the specific excerpts listed below. The classes will cover fingerings, bowings, practice suggestions and general issues a committee listens for, and will allow time for those who have prepared a given excerpt in advance to play for comments. If you’d like to play any of these for suggestions, please prepare the excerpts in advance. Excerpts are available below:

If you have a question not answered on this website, please e-mail  We will respond to you as soon as possible.

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