Latest NCVS happenings...

🎻 2023 Young Violist Competition 

& the winners are...

1st place-Jennifer Kang

2nd place (tie)-Jenna Kim & Colin Breshears

3rd place-Katherine Yang

Best Bach award - Jennifer Kang

Best New Piece award - Jennifer Kang

Congratulations to our prizewinners and to all of our excellent NCVS YVC finalists! To learn more about them, see below.

Jennifer Kang from Mountain View

Jennifer Kang is  a 13-year-old violist who currently attends  Blach Intermediate School as  an 8th grader .  She has been studying at  the San Francisco Conservatory Music Pre-College Division under the tutelage of Dimitri Murrath, following previous instructions from Sujung Seok and Minji Kim.  Along with her passion for chamber music,  Jennifer also studies at the Young Chamber Musicians program. 
She  has won several awards, including  first place at the 2019 US Open Music Competition, 2019, 2020 & 2021 US International Music Competition, 2020 & 2021 Silicon Valley Music Competition and 2017 & 2018 KT Youth Music Competition.  In 2019, she performed solo in Carnegie Hall in a winners’ recital for American ProtĂ©gĂ© International Piano & Strings Competition.  Jennifer was admitted to the Morningside Music Bridge Program for the summer of  2023 with a full scholarship. She has also participated in the Music@Menlo Young Performers program in 2022 and the Heifetz PEG in 2021.  She has also been selected to perform in masterclasses  with Jonathan Vinocour and Michael Klotz.
Beyond her musical accomplishments, Jennifer is committed to using her talents to make a positive impact on society.  She has participated in benefit concerts for Red Cross Disaster Relief since 2017 and joined the Santa Clara division of Back to Bach project in 2022, which brings musical inspiration to children. Through her involvement in these community services, she has  continuously developed a strong conviction that  music has the ability to bring emotional comfort to others and make a positive impact on society.
Aside from her musical endeavors,  Jennifer is also an avid writer whose work has garnered recognition from various writing competitions, including the  Scholastic Awards and the Geek Competition.

Colin Breshears from San Pablo

Colin, age 10, began violin lessons at age 3 with David Mallory and Ayke Agus. At age 6, Colin began studying viola with Madeline Prager at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Pre-college Division. At age 10 he won 1st Place in the American Viola Society National Junior Solo Competition, 1st Place CalASTA San Francisco Solo Competition - Novice Division, 1st Place in the Classical Masters Music Festival Competition, 1st Place in the CAPMT Sacramento Go For the Gold Competition, and 1st place in the 2022 Pacific Musical Society & Foundation Competition. Since 2018 Colin has performed as a soloist and with his sibling quartet, The Breshears Quartet, at IguazĂş en Concierto festival in Argentina and at Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in Mexico.


Jenna Kim from Los Gatos

Jenna Kim is a freshman at Los Gatos High School. She started playing viola when she was eight years old under her current teacher, Yunsun Kim. Jenna won first place at the Silicon Valley Music Competition in 2019 and 2021, and she received second place as part of a quartet in their 2022 competition. In 2022, she also received second place in the Korean American Music Supporters Association (KAMSA) competition and was a part of the KAMSA youth orchestra. She participated in the California All-State Junior High School String Orchestra in 2022 and the California All-State High School Symphony Orchestra in 2023. She enjoys spreading music and cheer by playing in small ensembles at senior centers. Outside of music, Jenna enjoys reading, watching Korean variety shows, and spending time with her friends, family, and dog.

Katherine Yang from San Mateo

Katherine Yang, 15, began her music studies on the piano at age 5, and now considers the viola her primary instrument. In studying piano, she was introduced to chamber music by playing duets, duos, accompaniments, and more with other musicians. Katherine began studying viola at age 6 and joined the Peninsula Youth Orchestra (PYO).  After 3 years, Katherine joined the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO), where she played in many chamber groups organized by the orchestra. She currently studies with Jay Liu and has now been playing in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) since the 2021-2022 season. During the summers of 2021 and 2022, Katherine participated in the Summer Music Institute at Tateuchi Hall. She often plays chamber music with her two sisters, who play violin and cello, for charity events, performances, busking, and sometimes just for fun.


David Kim from Saratoga

David Kim, 15, is a sophomore at Saratoga High School and has studied viola under his instructor, Yunsun Kim, since he was six. David has participated and placed in various competitions such as KAMSA (Korean American Music Supporters’ Association), The Northern California Viola Society Competition, USIMC, American ProtĂ©gĂ© International Competition, and many more. He has also contributed in several ensembles, chamber groups, orchestras including CASMEC’s California All-State String and Symphonic Orchestra, KAMSA (Korean American Music Supporters’ Association) orchestra, SVYS (Silicon Valley Youth Symphony), MUSE (Music and Us Serves Everyone) Ensemble, Chamber Music by the Bay, and many more. Outside of his competition and orchestral experiences, David has participated in various volunteering and performance activities; He was invited to and performed at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and his school’s SSO (Saratoga Symphony Orchestra) was invited to and performed throughout Europe in the Musikverein, Smetana Hall, etc. Aside from music, David enjoys playing archery to which he was ranked 4th in the state of CA and placed in various other local, state, national, and international tournaments.


Bomin Kim from San Jose

Bomin (Emily) Kim is a junior at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, California. She started playing the piano at the age of six, and she eventually started playing the viola in the fourth grade. She is currently studying with Teacher Yunsun Kim. Emily has participated in CYS for three years, All State High School String Orchestra in the ninth grade, and was a member of the viola section of SFSYO in the 2021-2022 season. She has also completed the CM Advanced Level for the viola. Emily received 3rd place for the American ProtĂ©gĂ© International Piano & Strings Competition 2021 Junior Category, 1st place in the 2021 junior viola Young Prodigy Category for the US International Open Music Competition, and 1st place for HS Viola in the Silicon Valley Music Competition of 2022.

Michelle Choi from Cupertino

Michelle Choi is a 10th grader at Cupertino High School. She started out playing piano but switched to viola after 5 years. She’s been playing viola since she was 9 years old under Yunsun Kim. Michelle has been a part of Silicon Valley Youth Orchestra for 5 years, KAMSA Youth Orchestra for 2. She was in All-State Junior Symphony Orchestra in 2021 and in All-State High School Symphony Orchestra in 2023. Michelle has also been a member of MUSE for the past 2 years. She received 3rd place in the 2021 Silicon Valley Music Competition, 3rd place in the 2022 Silicon Valley Music Competition, 2nd place in the 2022 Silicon Valley Music Competition ensemble division, and an Honorable Mention in the 2022 KAMSA Music Competition. Michelle also participates in a variety of volunteering activities involving music. For 2 years, she has played at Bobateeno, a city run event that works to support teen mental health, and the Hwarang Vision Festival, which works to fund eye surgeries in Guatemala. She’s played at countless senior centers and volunteers at AMASE to help people with special needs play music. Outside of viola, Michelle loves to crochet and talk with her friends.




Fall 2022  

We had a great turnout for ViolaMANIA! 5.0 - thanks to all who performed, participated and donated. Special thanks to Dolce Violins, Heaney Violins and Joan Balter Violins for their raffle donations.



 Congratulations to our 2022 Young Violists Competition Winners:

Andrew Ahn, 16, from Atherton

Andrew Hwang, 14, from Palo Alto

Chanhee Park, 16, from San Jose

Meet our winners:

Andrew Ahn, First Place and Best Performance of Micro Suite, entered the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre College Division as a violist in 2016 where he currently studies with Pei-Ling Lin.  He has been a member of Young Chamber Musicians since 2020, performing in masterclasses with Chris Costanza of the St. Lawrence Quartet and Eric Chin of the Telegraph Quartet.  As a soloist, Andrew has won multiple awards including 3rd place in the USIMC 2020 and 2nd place in the KAMSA 2021, and has performed in a masterclass with Paul Yarborough of the Alexander String Quartet. Andrew attended the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in 2020, and the Bowdoin International Summer Music Festival in 2021. Outside of music, he enjoys playing video games with his friends and studying chemistry.


Andrew Hwang, Second Place and Best Bach Performance,
is a freshman at Henry Gunn High School, where he is principal violist in the orchestra. He started playing the viola at age 9 under Sujung Seok, and has been studying with Minji Kim since 2020. He is a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, and of the Young Chamber Musicians led by Susan Bates. Andrew has won numerous competitions including 2nd place at the 2021 United States International Music Competition, and 4th prize at the 2021 Houston International Music Competition. In addition, he received the Grand Prize in the 2021 Silicon Valley Music Competition, 1st prize in the 2021 KAMSA Competition, and was a winner of the 2021 Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Concerto Competition where he had been a member for three years. Andrew has been a member of the 2020 and 2021 California All-State Junior High Orchestra, and of the High School Symphony in 2022. He participated in the 2021 Heifetz PEG program studying with Bela Horvath, and in the 2021 Bowdoin Music Festival with Che-Yen Chen. Andrew has been performing for Red Cross Disaster Relief in Nahnoom Benefit Concerts since 2017.

11th grader Chanhee Park, Third Prize Winner, attends Archbishop Mitty High School. He started piano in 1st grade, and that led to his interest in viola 3 years later, under his current teacher Yunsun Kim. Says Chanhee' "She taught me everything and fed my interest in competitions, ensembles, and orchestra." Chanhee joined the Silicon Valley Youth Symphony as a 7th grader, and became a principal of the viola section soon after. Chanhee has participated in many competitions and won first place in the Silicon Valley Music Competition and the United States International Music Competition. He has also participated in a variety of ensembles including a trio and a quartet; these groups have found some competitive success as well. "Music has shaped my life and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things as COVID hopefully dies down."


NCVS Viola Pandemonium Sessions continue in 2021:


May 2, 2021 - hear practice tips from our YVC violists:

These five excellent young players from Northern California who performed in our Young Violist Competition finals share strategies for learning repertoire and building technique. We are excited to showcase our 2021 Young Violist Competition finalists in a new way: as teachers! Learn from five of the most talented and wonderful young violists in our region.

April 2021, Molly Carr on Dounis Daily Dozen for Violists 

In a conversation with viola in hand, Molly walked us through and generously shared her years of experience with this extensive and interesting warmup routine. Around 10 years ago, Molly's viola teacher Steven Tenenbom of the Orion Quartet, along with his quartet colleague violinist Daniel Phillips, each gave presentations to her studio class at Juilliard on the fascinating ways that the Dounis philosophy can change the brain/body connection and ultimately improve one's ease and facility on the instrument. Molly says, "With so many respected musicians around me suddenly raving about the benefits of this philosophy of playing, I decided it was high time I looked into this 'Dounis'. And wow. I'm so glad I did!"

 Molly had been transposing the violin exercises down a fifth in daily practicing and having her viola students do the same. But now, with the gift of time during the pandemic, she was able to finally transpose these exercises officially into the world of the viola.


Feb 2021,  NCVS's 2021 winning composer Andrew Wilson on composing life in lockdown and beyond. Escape to the English countryside with us!

Join Daria, Patty and Katie for a conversation with NCVS Composition Contest 2020-21 winner, Andrew Wilson, checking in from Devon, UK. He totally charmed us, and you’ll love him, too. Want to know where to find an open pub during lockdown? Or how bicycling can be as good for composing as it is for cardio?

Naturally we discussed his work and the winning composition, a fantasia for solo viola, VIOLA & CESARIO. Andrew talked about the Shakespearian inspiration and the intricacies of the Twelfth Night references in the music. Don't forget that you can hear it premiered by our NCVS Young Violists Competition finalists on March 7th. We are thrilled to introduce it to you.

During the conversation, we were also transported by a recording of Andrew's piece, TROS AN TREYS, which means dancing in Cornish, or literally "The sound of the feet". Written for string orchestra, which instantly evokes the beautiful English countryside in the vein of Elgar, Stanford, Vaughn Williams and Holst. 

Jan 2021 - Nuts & Bolts, Strings, Bridges and Frogs: what it takes to keep instruments responding smoothly and what the player can do to help with Joan Balter  Watch here

What kind of strings should I use? Can I mix and match? When do I need a rehair? What is the best rosin to use? Why is my bridge tilting and what can I do about it? Local luthier Joan Balter, the proprietor of Balter Violins in Berkeley, California will talk to us about the nuts, bolts, bridges and frogs of our treasured instruments. We will get insights into looking for an instrument and bow, basic maintenance that you can keep an eye on at home, and maybe even hear a viola joke or two! Joan is our official viola joke teller at ViolaMania, our viola gathering held every couple of years in Berkeley.

Clifton Harrison talks about the Viola d'amore & more Jan 2021

Clifton Harrison joined us from London in a lively conversation about the violas in his life - d'amore, baroque  & modern - and his musical life in lockdown.

Violist Clifton Harrison, a Midwesterner by birth, has been in the UK for more than 10 years leading a multi-faceted musical career. In this wide-ranging conversation, he discusses his instruments and bows, the musical journey that led him to London, and how he has adapted during lockdown.  He will introduce the viola d'amore and discuss some of the intricacies of developing facility on the instrument. Repertoire for the d'amore, some listening suggestions and some fascinating stories are along the way.  Join us for this discussion with this  wonderfully engaging and unique performer and learn something about the characteristics of the viola d’amore!

Watch Clifton's Session here:

November 2020, celebrating KatĂł Havas at 100

Northern California Viola society invites you into November with 3 more online sessions on Sundays@5pm pacific time.   It is KatĂł Havas and the New Approach all month to honor her - November 5th would have been her 100th birthday. Five wonderful teachers will lead us in specific exercises and also help you understand her approach. Those of us who worked with her know that all during her lifetime she adamantly resisted the idea that New Approach be called a "method" or "system".  There are often misconceptions about what it actually is! Katò Havas’ New Approach gives us a comprehensive system using movement and balance which leads to ease in playing. With the guidance of musicians who studied with Havas in Oxford, participants will learn strategies unique to the New Approach, including the concepts of “no violin,” "the giving left hand," “no bow hold" and bow distribution through the right arm "hinges." Katò Havas’ teachings have guided generations of musicians in their quest to play with physical freedom and wellness. Register via eventbrite links below.  You must register to participate. The sessions are free and open to violists from anywhere and we encourage a variety of ages and skill levels. Please attend any or all three this month and spread the word. If you would like to support our efforts with a membership, renewal or gift, we would welcome your support. All donations will benefit the Young Violists Competition and Composer Competition. We are a 501(c)3 and your donations may be tax deductible.


November 15th with Bettina Mussumeli and Jodi Levitz, 5pm Pacific:

Stellar teaching artists Jodi Levitz, viola, and Bettina Mussumeli, violin, made enormous contributions to Northern California in their years here performing and teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory. With the magic of Zoom, we are able to whisk them back from their current environs in Miami to lead us in an exploration of Kato Havas' New Approach. We'll be focusing on integrating the basic principals of the New Approach with so-called “mainstream” string technique.  



November 22nd with Patty Heller, 5pm Pacific: 

Katò Havas’ New Approach is a string training pathway that focuses on connecting physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of music making. Join Patty Heller to learn the practice of miming, in which we first isolate movement, then combine  into harmonious and effective performance. Miming involves finding the pulse, directing movement with the voice, working out the mechanics of bow distribution and interval shapes.



November 29th with David Daniel Bowes, Jeananne Weber and Patricia Heller, 5pm Pacific:

A common misconception holds that beginning to learn any instrument requires an initial period of struggle where the sound is unpleasant to the player and anyone listening. This session will demonstrate that by applying the principles of the New Approach from the very start, we can structure our movements in order to nurture resonance of the instrument. Ease in the body leads to releasing beautiful tone from the instrument. David, Jeananne and Patty created this session for an ASTA conference - we are the lucky recipients of their extensive knowledge and experience teaching and performing using the New Approach.


OCTOBER: Eleanor Angel's Primrose Practice Tips, October 18, 5pm PDT:

Northern California violist, educator and Bay Area treasure takes us on a journey of discovery, how to turn tricky passagework flawless using William Primrose's techniques. Using familiar repertoire, Eleanor will walk us through an exercise for learning 16th note and triplet passages in rhythms and in all parts of the bow. We'll leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of agile fingers and clean string crossings! Along the way she will share stories of her time with Primrose from her first lesson onwards. In addition to having a full studio of violin and viola students, Eleanor is the past Assistant Director of the de Veritch Institute for Viola, and the Founder/Past President of the Northern California Viola Society.To watch this session: YouTube  link for NCVS Eleanor video

 Jeremy Cohen Tango Techniques, October 11, 5pm PDT

Jeremy Cohen has dazzled the string world for decades with his violin and he is certainly no stranger to the viola!! With his extensive background in tango, jazz, classical, country, blues, rock and funk, Jeremy will share his knowledge with us we try out tango techniques from the Arrastre to the Tambour. Don't miss out on Jeremy's Viola Duets - purchase the sheet music here and listen: Jeremy's Viola Duets on YouTube,




This is going to be BIG fun, do.not.miss! With lively music and a great spirit, Cookie brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from her years of performing and teaching. We are lucky to snag her- she is usually off playing worldwide with her trio, Veretski Pass! She is an expert in Jewish violin style and has transcribed countless folk tunes from the tradition.



Get your mind-body-spirit mojo going in this hour-long workshop. David's workshop will have as the centerpiece an experience of one of Moshe Feldenkrais' many lessons called ATM, or "Awareness Through Movement".  David is celebrating his 50th anniversary of teaching music this year, having given his first violin and piano lessons when he was 16. Studying the Feldenkrais® Method seemed a natural extension of immersion in the New Approach, which constitute the teaching principles of Kato Havas, OBE.

David teaches a Feldenkrais® class every Monday at 11 AM Pacific time online. To register: David Daniel Bowes' Monday Weekly Class


Experienced music educator and clinician Dr Thomas Tatton leads us through a series of games that are challenging but accessible to many levels of players. No exercise book is needed as we try out the "games" that Tom demonstrates for finding a deeper tone, developing sautillé, shifting with a relaxed arm and building accuracy in higher positions. With a wealth of experience in educational settings, Tom will explain how to do the exercises and what technique is being developed. We try it out and learn something new - pedagogy without tears! Watch here

2020 Pandemic Sessions: NCVS Viola Pandemonium

This month, August 2020, we are starting the Viola Pandemonium Sessions, join us to stir it up in lockdown! Aug 16, 23 & 30, Sundays at 5pm. These sessions are free to members and we suggest a donation for non-members, no one turned away for lack of funds. Please keep in mind that we are a volunteer-run non-profit and if you value this type of event, show us by donating so we can keep this and future programs going. Join NCVS for member dues of only $20.
August 16th, Katrina Wreede starts us off with Brazil to Bollywood. You will have a chance to learn a traditional Brazilian Choro and a tune from a Bollywood film. 5pm PST via Zoom. To register:

On August 23rd, Keith Lawrence teaches us some improvisation skills, fun style techniques and encourages violists in finding their individual creative voice. Keith is violist, composer, vocalist, and arranger, currently with Cosa Nostra Strings, a group in the Jazz Mafia Collective based in the SF Bay Area. He is also a colleague in many classical orchestra and chamber groups in the area.

Ethan Filner, beloved past President of NCVS will lead us on August 30th in "Kreutzer Club" - a chance to break through the isolation of the practice room lately! We'll be playing etudes together to tackle rewarding, challenging, fun and/or beautiful ones. Submit one of your faves in pdf format in advance, prepare to play it in a super mini-masterclass setting for individual feedback or follow along at home. Can be Kreutzer or any composer that you have been working on.

Questions? email us at