21st Century Violin Search

Since 1982, the quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (IVCI) has searched the globe for the finest young virtuosos and launched the careers of its Laureates. Today, 54 Laureates are concertizing across the globe as soloists, chamber musicians, recording artists and concertmasters of the world’s most renowned orchestras.

“The Indianapolis” has proudly promoted contemporary violin makers since 2002 and held instrument exhibitions during each of our competitions. We will celebrate our 10th Quadrennial Competition August 31 - September 16, 2018. In commemoration of this milestone, we want to take our support of contemporary violin making to an entirely new level. We know how difficult and costly it is for players to find instruments given that many of the top makers have long waiting lists. We also recognize how important it is for our Laureates to have a concert level instrument to use for the concerts which are arranged for them as part of winning “The Indianapolis.” We want to provide the best tools possible to match their talent, and nothing is more critical to their success than having the use of a first-rate violin. To accomplish this, the IVCI is announcing an international search for the finest violins made in the 21st century. Through this search, we endeavor to introduce the finest young violinists in the world to the greatest violin makers, by providing a rare opportunity to view a large pool of instruments at one time. Our ultimate goal is to identify and purchase two or more of the violins and make them available to our Laureates for concertizing.

Submission Information

  • The search is open to all makers. Only one instrument per maker may be submitted. Violin must be built in the year 2001 or later and it must be for sale at the maker’s established price, not to exceed $70,000 USD. We welcome instruments that have been previously exhibited and/or have won awards in violin making competitions.
  • The registration deadline is June 29, 2018. Click here to register.
  • Violins must be received by the IVCI no later than 5:00 PM on August 17, and will be available for pick-up on September 16 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM. Instruments may be shipped or hand delivered to:
    International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
    32 E. Washington St., Suite 1320
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Any instrument adjustments needed (prior to the evaluation process) can be done by the maker in person, or (with the maker’s permission) by the IVCI Official Luthier.
  • A non-refundable submission fee of $200 covers entry into the Search, a 1/8th size color ad in the IVCI 10th Quadrennial Commemorative Program (which will have a digital version online linked to the maker’s website), and inclusion of the instrument in a public exhibition.
  • The IVCI reserves the right to limit the amount of accepted violins due to hall availability and limited exhibit space.

Evaluation Process

  • All submissions will be initially evaluated solely on tone by a group of concert violinists in the Indiana History Center Basile Theater (the site of the IVCI Preliminaries and Semi-Finals) under supervised, controlled, blind playing conditions. The violinists will identify the top 12 violins. The top 12 instruments will then go through a listening test in front of a live audience. During all blind-testing, violins will only be identified by numbers. Attending makers and players are invited to participate in the listening test to provide listener preference. Playing and listening tests will be held August 28-30.
  • One or more violin experts (who do not have an instrument in the Search) will visually inspect the selected 12 instruments to verify professional standards of workmanship and to confirm that stated prices are in line with sales histories.
  • During the Preliminaries of the IVCI, each of the 2018 Participants who wishes to participate will blind test these 12 violins and rank their top choices. The same will be done by the 2018 Jury and additional concert artists. All violinists who participate in the trial of instruments will be told the identities of their top scoring instruments after the event.
  • Their ratings, combined with the preliminary blind test rankings will be used to select and rank the top six instruments.
  • To facilitate research into how players select instruments, a team from the VSA-Oberlin Acoustics Workshop will undertake acoustical measurements of the top 12 violins along with a random sampling of other instruments. All measurement data will be made freely available online within nine months of the Search. Only the top six violins will be identified by their maker’s names.
  • A final decision by the IVCI on purchasing two or more of the top six violins will be based on blind-test results, assessments by the independent experts, and other considerations of the IVCI administration. The IVCI is not obligated to purchase any particular violin.

Violin Exhibition

  • A public exhibition of all submitted violins will be held from 2:00 – 5:00 PM on Saturday, September 15. All instruments must be for sale, on condition that the IVCI has first right of refusal once the results of the evaluations are announced publicly on Saturday evening, September 15 (see below). Makers or their representatives are invited to attend the exhibition and provide promotional flyers for their work. Any transactions shall be made directly between the makers or their representative and the prospective purchasers. No commissions will be taken by the IVCI.
  • Under mutually-acceptable conditions, the IVCI will lend a purchased instrument back to the maker if the maker wants to enter it in a violin making competition in 2018.

Announcement of Results

  • On Saturday evening, September 15, following the last performance of the Finals with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and during the Jury’s deliberation of the 2018 IVCI Laureates, the six top-ranked violins will be played for the public by a concert violinist on the stage of the Hilbert Circle Theater. The identities of the makers and the results of the search will be announced that night prior to announcing the placement of the 2018 Laureates.
21st Century Violin Search