NCVS Composer Competition


The Northern California Viola Society is pleased to announce our 2019-20 Composition Competition Winner.  Denise Ondishko’s work, COGITATIO for Viola Solo, was the work chosen by the 5-member panel of professional violists from 80-plus individual works submitted.  

The 86 works submitted this year came from composers based in countries including: Indonesia, China, Russia, Iran, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Italy, UK, Ireland, France, Japan, Greece, Belgium, Israel, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the US.  It was exciting to see the international offerings and the large number of submissions. The pieces we received demonstrated a huge range of creativity and musicality.   We are deeply grateful to all of the composers who took the time to share their efforts with us.  Please consider applying again next year. 

The finalist compositions were (in alphabetical order):

A Viking Farewell - Sarah Cattley
Cogitatio - Denise Ondishko (winner)
Dance for Solo Viola - Laura Paleari
Dolorondo - Wendy Davis
Étude - Lautaro Figueroa
Fabula - Maximiliano Garcia de Veas Gimena
Grasshopper - Milana Milosovic
One Evening in the Forest - Reina Yoshioka
Rite of Fire - Indra Persons
Threnody for a Skinned Cat - Gu Wei
Upon the Path of the Infinite - Girard Kratz
Whirling Dervish (from Balkan Pictures) - C. J. Kachulis

The NCVS sought original composition submissions for the Young Violists Competition finalists (high school age or younger) to perform on Sunday March 8, 2020 as part of the competition finals requirements. 

Our 2019-20 Deadline has passed, but guidelines below for reference/plans for next year:

Work must be an original, unperformed composition for solo viola without accompaniment, under 4 minutes and appropriate for very excellent high school players.  Please do not merely place an alto clef on a work for another instrument - we seek to encourage people to compose for viola specifically. Winning composer waives PRO rights for the competition performances.  Composer keeps ownership and all other rights.
Restrictions: No age or other limits to submit.
Fee to submit: None
Prize: $100 and recording of several excellent young players performing the work.  
Deadline: Oct. 30, 2019 
Winner announcement: by Jan. 1, 2020

Submission details: Submit a PDF of the score, including your name and contact information to:  All submissions (with names blocked out) will be sight-read and evaluated by professional violist board members of the NCVS and voted on the full board.  Please make a note on the score if you’d like to get comments from them. Submission materials will be deleted after the winner is chosen.

Questions: Contact Katrina Wreede at:



The 2018-19 winning composition was “Out of Mud”, by Denise Ondishko. It is inspired by the Buddhist concept of recognizing that the lovely lotus flower grows out of the mud but is never muddy.  Dede hopes all performers and listeners experience the fulfillment of beauty, joy and happiness.  Link to purchase the sheet music and hear audio is here, performed by Daria D'Andrea
Denise (Dede) Ondishko, Ph.D. is an American composer who writes across a wide variety of genres, including orchestra, wind ensemble, mixed choir, solo voice, and works for saxophone with computer-synthesized tape. Ondishko began composing at the age of 14 at The Walden School and went on to receive degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University (BFA) and Eastman School of Music (MM, PhD). She studied with Joseph Schwantner, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Barbara Kolb, Allan Schindler, Paul Dvorak, Leonardo Balada and H. David Hogan. Ondishko is now retired and living with her husband in Palm Springs, California where she is able to devote herself to writing music.

The NCVS sought and received original composition submissions for the Young Violists Competition finalists (high school age or younger). A winning composition was chosen to be performed by each finalist as part of the competition finals requirements. The 2019 Finals took place in San Francisco at the Capp Street branch of the SF Community Music Center on Sunday March 10, 2019.