top of page

We are excited to bring Sheila Browne back for a masterclass! 
Registration is now open!
Limited participant spots!
Participant Deadline: March 9th, 2024
No deadline for Auditors.

Questions? Contact Maria Rusu at

PVS Masterclass 3.17.24.jpg

Maria Rusu 
Musician, Educator & President of the Philadelphia Viola Society


PVS March 8 2023 (1).png

Tune in on March 8th 2023 at 12 PM EST to view the premiere of this concert!

PVS March 8 2023 Program.png

Program and Biographies -
Journey Through Music & Art
Jan. 17th 2022


Program and Biographies - Contemporary Virtual Viola Exposition March 15th, 2021

PVS MARCH 15 2021.png
PVS Romanian Concert 3.13.21 (1).png

Program and Biographies - All Romanian Music Concert - March 13th, 2021

PVS Viola Concert.png
PVS All Bach Virtual Viola Concert - Feb. 3rd, 2021
Program and biographies of the performers below
PVS Viola Concert (5).png



You can see Dali Quartet Fest on this  WHYY video documentary here

Student Recitals Calendar



New Published Works for Viola by Richard Lane

Richard Lane - Aria and Allegro for viola solo and string orchestra

Composer: Lane, Richard

Year of composition: 1990

Duration: 11'

Publisher Editions Bim

Aria and Allegro is a beautifully rhapsodic piece with sections of rhythmic excitement. Lane took full advantage of the complete viola range, featuring the richness of the lower strings and the singing quality of the higher registers.

Richard Lane -  Triptych for six violas

Composer: Lane, Richard (1933-2004)
Year of composition: 2002
Duration: 5'30

Format: Score and parts
Publisher Editions Bim

Richard Lane - Nocturne for Viola and Piano

Composer: Lane, Richard (1933-2004)
Year of composition: 1995
Duration: 3'

Publisher Editions Bim


Richard Lane’s lyrical autumnal style fits perfectly with the viola’s character, and in this Nocturne, he manages to cover the full spectrum of the viola’s colors and range, while creating an emotional experience for the audience surely to be among the most memorable of any recital.

Viola made by

Luis Claudio Manfio

Who was Richard Lane?


All of the over 500 compositions written between 1949 and 2004 by Richard Lane (1933-2004) are dedicated to the numerous faithful musician friends, students or colleagues he had during his life. He didn't care about money nor to be published.

Each work carries the particular print which characterizes his love for friendships or his pedagogical dedication.

His great natural musical talent, his modesty and careless feelings concerning the different trends of contemporary music resulted nevertheless into musical jewels within the mainstream American "classical" music of his time.

Peter Dayton, Composer (he/him/his)

"...a composer whose heart and care are palpable. His melodic sensibilities are at center stage...Dayton is a young composer who has a voice that deserves to be heard often." - American Record Guide


Peter's latest album: Aspects of Landscape: Music inspired by the world of John Hitchens is available now for order, download, or streaming on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play

Personal site:





Music Preparatory Division  

A Commonwealth University          

1515 Market Street, 5th floor

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  19102



Fax 215.204.5492

Dear Philadelphia Viola Society,

The Center for Gifted Young Musicians (CGYM) will be holding auditions for new students interested in participating in the 2017-18 season on September 9th and 16th. Established in 1986, this program is focused on providing string students with a highly professional, nurturing atmosphere to develop both their technical skills and their love of music. While not every student may be working towards a career in performance, they are all serious about their commitment to music and this program helps shape their understanding of all that is needed to surpass the challenges of such an advanced art form.


Working on major chamber music repertoire with some of Philadelphia’s finest professional musicians, our young musicians are guided and motivated to achieve highest levels of performance. Participating in the CGYM chamber orchestra develops the skills required for orchestral playing in a group small enough to be individually heard. The feeling of community generated by such a group of like-minded students is invaluable. 


Our Youth Chamber Orchestra performed in Iceland in 2015, continues a bond with students in Reykjavik (who visited Philadelphia in 2014 and 2016) and returned to Iceland for a visit this past June 10-18. A brief collage of our concert in Harpa, the Icelandic Performing Arts Center, is here: and an excerpt of our chamber music performance at the National Gallery of Iceland: . We also were honored to present a special performance for Iceland’s President Johanesson in his residence. 


The annual Festival of Young Musicians was held this spring, beginning Friday, May 5 and culminating with the YCO Gala Concert celebrating 30 years of CGYM on May 13. The concert featured a reunion of alumni from across the program’s history. We also honored violinist and former faculty member and Philadelphia Orchestra member Yumi Ninomiya Scott with the Inspiration Award. 


For another perspective on Temple Music Prep, CGYM, and some key participants, please tune into the recent podcast of “A Musical Life”, produced by Hugh Sung:


Our 2017-2018 year will once again continue our association with the award-winning Jasper Quartet. All weekly rehearsals are open to Music Prep students, while master classes with the Jasper Quartet are accessible to our students as well as the general public. The Jasper Quartet is our professional quartet-in-residence and provides students with valuable insights into career building and performance.


Program alumni include Philadelphia Orchestra members Jennifer Haas, Marvin Moon, Burchard Tang and others, and violinists Elizabeth Pitcairn, Elaina Urioste,  Ellen DePasquale, Sarah Chang, Robyn Bollinger, Bryan Lee, and Justine Lamb-Budge. Each of these talented performers has always referred to the program’s high intensity focus on string excellence as contributing to his/her success. 


To be a part of our exciting CGYM season, interested string students may complete our online application, schedule an audition time, and set up a student profile all by clicking HERE. For repertoire requirements and other pertinent information, visit our Information Page or call 215-204-1512.  


We would greatly appreciate your sharing this information with your members who may have students who might benefit from the experiences our program can offer to motivated young musicians. We especially are hoping to find additional young violists.


Thank you for sharing this opportunity with your Society!


Mark Huxsoll

Director, Temple Music Prep


By Luis Claudio Manfio

When a luthier decides to make a violin, he has two basic models: Stradivari and Guarneri Del Gesù. But if the instrument is a viola it is not all that simple. First there is the question of size (from 15.5 to 18 inches), then the model, that can be Cremonese (Amati, Guarneri, Stradivari), Brescian (Gasparo da Salò, Maggini, Zanetto), Venetian (Busan), or personal. Depending on the choices of the maker the resulting viola can vary a lot in terms of sound, playability and appearance.Then comes the sound, dark or bright. All these possibilities will affect violist’s decisions when they are looking for a viola too.The viola is tuned one octave above the cello so, ideally, it should be half of the size of cello, but that would make it unplayable.


As a maker, my main idea is more making a tool for the musician than an art object; instruments are made for making music, so most of my energy goes to sound and playability.  Bearing that in mind, and being also a player, I try to avoid the most common problems associated with the viola: a too narrow dynamic range (you change your bowing and nothing happens in terms of volume and sound color), slow response, a dead C string, lack of clarity (notes will mingle in quick passages) and unfocused and hollow sound.

First, let us talk about the size. Playing comfort depends not only on the size but also on the string length, weight of the instrument, neck thickness and width, rib depth and how wide the sound box is, mainly in the upper bouts. There are many violists with injuries due to playing a big viola over the years. Fortunately, today there are many teachers that will warn their students about the risks of playing an oversized viola. Many players, when they are young, can handle a big viola but, as they get older, many of them will move to a smaller one. Playing conditions must have an influence too, if you play in the opera you may have to face up to six hours of playing, and that can be hard in a large viola even if you are a tall player with long arms. Most professional violists will move to a smaller viola that sounds good as soon as they have an opportunity to do so. I think we can see that today there is a trend towards small violas.  

 It was Michael Tree that advised me to become a viola maker some decades ago, and he loved big violas, so I made many  17 inch violas. They were very good, but hard to sell, since they required tall players.  So I started reducing the size, setting eventually in a 16 inch model that most players can handle. Sometimes I make also a 15.5 inch model for small players.

My main model is inspired in Andrea Guarneri, which I reduced to 40.7 cms. (16”), but with the lower and C bouts a bit wider, keeping the upper bouts as the original Andrea Guarneri (19.3 cm.). Too wide upper bouts make it difficult to stretch up to the higher positions.

 A smaller model is not only more comfortable but will also make playing difficult pieces easier.  It is good remembering how difficult viola auditions are today.  In order to make it light I use low density spruce and maple that is less dense. I make my scrolls 5% smaller than the original Andrea Guarneri and without shoulders, that is, violin type, and fit them with violin pegs (a Tertis idea). Necks don’t need to be thick and wide; they can add a lot of weight so I make them almost as thin and narrow as a violin neck. I try to make the blocks and linings smaller too, and with very light wood, I am always trying to take off some grams here and there and, eventually , it makes a huge difference for comfort playing. Long corners can look beautiful, but they may play havoc with bow clearance, so I make my viola corners on the short size.  Deep ribs can make the viola uncomfortable, not only under the neck root but also under the chin, so I make my ribs on the shallow side, at 37 mm in the endpin and 34 on the neck root. Too deep ribs may make the sound hollow and unfocused too.  Good C bout widths coupled with f holes that are not too close are good for the basses.  I make my f holes parallel, that helps creating a long and wide platform in the top that helps resonance. 


I follow Renè Morel’s ideas about string and neck length, 15 cm. for the neck and a comfortable string length of 375 mm. Most of my players like to produce a big sound so, following Zukerman’s advice, I make my plates on the thick side, backs are from 3 to 7 mm. thick, and tops are 3. mm thick that, coupled with a relatively massive bass bar, helps producing an instrument with few or almost no wolves or rasped notes. I try to make a viola that sounds good also in the 7th position of the C string, a very difficult region in sound production that is used a lot by top players.


The use of thicker graduations also prevents that the viola will not choke when the instrument is played fortissimo with the bow near the bridge. When I draw my bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge increasing the bow weight I want a dramatic difference in volume and color to be heard,  without that it is very hard to interpret music. Just think about the flexibility of a contralto opera singer, that’s what we want from a good viola.

For sound colour I like a dark, but focused sound, that can also be edgy when you want it. Violas are unmerciful with makers, if you make something wrong the resulting instrument will not sound good. So I do prefer focusing to the same model and size, keeping precise notes about the wood used, weight and tap tones of the tops and backs in order to get consistent results. 

A good thing about being a viola maker is that you can count with a helpful viola community. Most players, principals, soloists and teachers are always willing to test drive your instruments and give their opinion on them. Whenever I meet a very good player I ask, “what can I do better?”.

Today’s violists are lucky to count on some makers specialized in violas that are constantly exchanging information, it is a relatively new thing that makes the life of viola players much easier.  

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Facebook - Black Circle
bottom of page