The contest, which takes place every two years, was held according to strict Covid-19 guidance 

Competition instruments

The Southern Violin Association (SVA) has announced the winners of its 2021 SVA Makers Competition. This was the third edition of the event, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mexican luthiers did particularly well at the competition, with Erik Iván Diaz-Garcia receiving the gold medal for violin workmanship and the highest score, allowing him to serve on the jury for the next competition in 2023. In addition, Pablo Alfaro (who co-wrote The Strad’s article on Mexican lutherie in August 2020) received two golds, one silver and one bronze medal. J. Wesley Rule of Knoxville, Tennessee, won gold for violin tone and picked up the special Southern Maker Award, for the highest-scoring violin by a maker from the southern United States.

Owing to Covid restrictions, none of the luthiers were allowed into the judging hall, with only the judges themselves and competition staff granted access. In addition, only violins and violas were eligible for entry this year. This year’s judges were Stephanie Voss, Jerry Pasewicz and Jaime Gonzalez (workmanship) and Olga Shpitko, Juan Ramírez and Jonathan Wright (tone). The full list of winners is below.


Violin Workmanship

Gold: Erik Iván Diaz-Garcia

Silver: Pablo Alfaro

Bronze: Felix Sandre Ochoa


Violin Tone

Gold: J. Wesley Rule

Silver: Henry Fisher

Bronze: Pablo Alfaro


Viola Workmanship

Gold: Pablo Alfaro

Silver: Liliana Holguín Barraza

Bronze: Ken Cousson


Read: From concept to sound: What judges look for in a violin making competition

Read: Do violin making competitions stifle originality in favour of perfection?

Read: Postcard from the China International Violin and Bow Making Competition


Viola Tone

Gold: Pablo Alfaro

Silver: Liliana Holguín Barraza

Bronze: David Chandler


Southern Maker Award

J. Wesley Rule


Novice Maker Award

Liliana Holguín Barraza


Highest Workmanship Score Violin or Viola – Next Competition Judge

Erik Iván Diaz-Garcia