Continuing on with our “This Week in Violas” series, we have several interesting viola tidbits to share.


British Airways Denies Cello Entry Due to Visa Requirement

We’ve covered carrying your viola with you on flights before, but this takes that discussion to a whole new level. British Airways apparently denied cabin entry to a cellist because although she had bought an extra seat for her cello, she needed to get a USA ESTA visa. Talk about ridiculous!

An amateur Swiss-based cellist has claimed she was refused entry to a British Airways flight from Zurich to Baltimore because the extra seat she had booked for her instrument required a USA ESTA visa.

Jane Bevan has told The Strad that airline staff requested she re-book all flights, quoting her a cost of over $4,000:


7 Ways to Improve Your Intonation

The Strad offers tips on how to improve your intonation. They offer tips such as getting comfortable, recording yourself, and delaying vibrato until you have practiced the piece thoroughly.


Violists in Portugal set record for largest ever viola ensemble

While a little dated, more than 300 violists met in Portugal in 2013 to break the world record for the largest ever viola ensemble. Other fun records for music: a 858 string ensemble in 2011 and a 4645 person violin ensemble.

The event was organised by the Portuguese Viola Association and took place as part of its biennial conference. The ensemble first assembled in a shopping centre to give a ‘flashmob’ performance to shoppers, before the group moved to the Conservatory for a concert of four works for viola ensemble.

International players were invited to join the ensemble, including Kenneth Martinson, president of the International Viola Society. Also present were two writers for The Strad, Carlos María Solare and Luis Magín, whose article on viola playing in the Spanish court can be read in the May issue.

The previous record was set in 2011 at the association’s last conference in Porto. In that event, the ensemble assembled at the Sala Suggia concert hall of the city’s Casa de Musica.


The Ideal Viola Size

We found this great dissertation on what the optimal viola size is by Sookyung Claire Jeong. While the study does not determine what the maximum length of a viola could be (theoretically you could make a viola any size), it does try to determine whether the size should be standardized like the violin. He concludes that the ideal standard viola size should be between 16″ and 17″ to accommodate the tone and player’s size.

He concludes with:

Nevertheless, it is hard to say whether the viola should be standardized because players and viola makers do not seem to be able to agree on a perfect size, shape, and sound. A player‟s ability and physical condition seem to be factors that cannot be overlooked and make it difficult to envision a standardized “model.”