by Michael Vidulich

The work of the International Viola Society (“IVS”) is to: bring the world’s violists together in order to foster dialogue and communication; coordinate international congresses; honor our distinguished members; encourage the formation of viola societies worldwide; support our member societies; promote viola research, publishing, composing, instrument making,
performances, etc.

To better understand how the IVS has, is, and plans to achieve its aims, this “brief” paper has been written. This paper/article is not intended to be a comprehensive document that lists all the activities of the IVS, but instead focuses on the following (in no particular order):

International Viola Congresses

IVS Awards: recognizing persons who have made outstanding contributions to the viola internationally (briefly addressed)

IVS viola media and communications: publications, articles, recordings, the “web,” etc.

IVS viola society sections: forming new viola societies and support for existing viola societies. [The present IVS member Viola Societies are: 1. American (USA), 2. Australian & New Zealand, 3. Canadian, 4. Chinese, 5. English, 6. French, 7. German, 8. Nigerian, 9. Nordic (Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish), 10. South African, 11. Spanish and 12. Welsh. Memberships pending: 13. Brazilian and 14. Polish]

The outstanding work of the founding international viola society (last known as the “Internationale Viola‐Gessellschaft,” or IVG) included: awarding International Viola Congresses, awards to violists for outstanding international contributions, worldwide viola societies that were chapter (section) members, support for viola activities, and the major publication Die Viola, among many other things.

Previous IVS Work

When the IVG successor organization, the “International Viola Society,” or IVS, was formed, it adopted many of the activities of the previous IVG, with the major exception of the publication of Die Viola (which had not been issued for several years).

The first IVS Presidency (1999–2001) recognized the need for an IVS publication and worked extremely hard to achieve this. After many years of communication with a leading music magazine, this aim was almost achieved. Unfortunately, a change in the editorial staff of that magazine decided not to proceed with the project. However, three successful congresses were held (including awarding the first ever congress outside Europe and North America to the Australian & New Zealand Viola Society, which was held in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2001), changes of policy for a more representative and “moveable” international IVS Presidency were promoted, a “fairer”— “more equitable” IVS dues policy for its sections was established, the policy of contacts for new sections was begun, and other IVS work was completed.

The second IVS Presidency (2002–2004) continued seeking out publication options and explored “web” options. As the IVS had only four section members (American, Australian & New Zealand, Canadian, and German), the formation of new viola society sections worldwide was further explored, and discussions were held with violists in Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden (as the previous Swedish Viola Society had “lapsed”), among others. In 2004 the IVS was faced with a real possibility that no International Viola Congress would be held in 2005 (a non‐North American Congress year), so work was started to ensure this would not be the case. The IVS was successful in securing the 2005 Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland (which only gave the Icelandic hosts a very short lead‐up time to prepare).

The third IVS Presidency (2005–2007) made it a priority to assist with the formation/creation of new viola sections worldwide. This was a necessity if congresses were to continue to be held in non‐North American Congress years. To achieve this in part and to assist with viola communications, an IVS Brochure was created, an IVS website was launched, and three publications were written and became available online:* Guidelines for forming an IVS Section, Guidelines for organizing an International Congress, and Guidelines for making a bid online to host an International Congress. Initial research was begun for further fundraising options and for an IVS update/revision of Peter Slowik”s Handbook for Viola Congress Hosts. Work also began on an IVS Trust Fund Scheme for Congress Hosts. The IVS organized “gift/donation” assistance of violas, strings, music, etc., to our two African IVS sections, and other projects were worked on. By the end of 2007 our IVS sections had increased from four to eleven.

[*For additional information, please see our web site at Click on “IVS Sections” for Guidelines for forming an IVS Section or contact our IVS Secretary, Kenneth Martinson at Click on “Congresses” for Congress Guidelines and Congress bids.]

Present IVS Work

The fourth IVS Presidency (2008–2010) is presently halfway through its term and has accepted its twelfth section (France) and is close to accepting two more sections (Brazil and Poland). The IVS represented its sections at the Fortieth Anniversary Conference of the founding of the International and German societies in Düsseldorf, Germany, last November—a “milestone” event in our viola society history.

The IVS project for a Viola Congress Handbook has been completed; it was a joint IVS and American Viola Society/Canadian Viola Society effort (and this document will soon be available through the American Viola Society’s head office). To assist the IVS to better assess its work, an IVS Survey was taken in April to May this year asking our sections questions on “how the IVS is doing” and “what we should be doing.” This survey is one way the IVS is working to maintain a close link with its sections and to improve our work for our sections. In the future, the IVS plans to send similar surveys out to our sections at least twice during each IVS term of office. Work on finalizing the IVS “Trust Fund,” various fund raising projects, collating a worldwide Database of Violists, and web updates (including articles) are all being worked on and will be some of the topics for this year’s IVS meetings at this year’s International Viola Congress in Stellenbosch, South Africa (July 27, 2009 to August 1, 2009).

Future IVS Work

For the remainder of this term and beyond: The IVS with twelve sections (and possibly two more very soon) now has a much more secure base for hosting International Viola Congresses. Creating new sections will hopefully continue to be a major IVS aim, but more time can now also be devoted to other issues.

Selecting recipients for IVS Awards has worked well for many years now, and I believe the IVS sees no “urgent” change as being required.

One of the goals in the early days of the IVS was to continue in some form an IVS periodical. The IVS is presently working on the idea of an online periodical (with an IVS editor and including contributions from individuals and our sections). Another aim for the IVS is to support new compositions and recordings for the viola in a “practical” way.

At present, the IVS is solely funded by its sections, each paying 7% of its annual members’ dues to the IVS. Most of this money annually assists the IVS officers to attend “in person” meetings at the annual congresses (used to pay part of their travel costs). The IVS meets only once a year “in person,” and this is vital to the workings of the IVS, as only “so much” can be done through e‐mails alone.

In order to serve our sections better and fulfill further IVS projects, it is now essential to work harder to seek out additional fund raising initiatives. With additional sources of income, the IVS could take on many more projects, including much needed assistance for our “developing country” sections with new viola works, viola teaching help/aids, sheet music, various projects, publications, instruments, supplies, etc. (as stated above, the IVS has already started looking at ways to achieve additional funding). The IVS plans to research an “incorporated” status for the IVS in various countries and how this might work worldwide for our international “non‐profit” organization. This is vital for certain groups and individuals who might consider IVS sponsorship, donations, and private grants to the IVS. Support from various governments and government agencies including schemes available through international organizations—such as the UNITED NATIONS, the COMMONWEALTH, and the EUROPEAN UNION—will be explored. A donors/sponsors program and an IVS online store are ideas the IVS will also be addressing soon.

The IVS is planning to seek out contacts with other string associations, viola makers, composer associations, publishers, etc., for mutual benefit to all our members. IVS work on the IVS Database of Violists will be of assistance with this and will also be useful in a variety of other ways.

The IVS hopes to implement many of these projects by the end of this term (December 2010) and will surely continue to work on many of these and others in the next term of office (2011–2013) and beyond—offering improved service to all our sections and violists worldwide.

Michael Vidulich, QSM

President, International Viola Society

June 2009

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