The CONCEPT and RULES for the 1st Darling International Bow Making Competition Amsterdam 2016

Dear Bow Makers and Violin Makers!

As the announcement of the Bow and Instrument Exhibition and 1st International Darling Bow Making Competition in Amsterdam at 5-6-7 Mai 2016 was received with such overwhelming enthusiasm, we can already reveal that the competitors for the bow making competition is of a prominence never seen before in any bow making competition in history before. A big honor for this Competition and Amsterdam to host such a group of bows and their makers! To quote the Guide de Michelin for 3 star restaurants: “vaut le voyage (worth the trip), for exhibitors, as as well competitors and with certainty for visitors!

The list of makers which can NOT win an award at this competition will be more impressive than the lists of winners of the most competitions, which demonstrates this most generous gesture of some of today´s greatest, already highly gold-medal-decorated makers to support this competition by their participation side by side with the talented next generation. A reason for the attractivity is certainly the different and new way of judging by the Jury of Workmanship and Playability, although the Jury Panel in traditional Competitions known to us all will and should continue in all its facets to preserve the tradition. But this 1st Darling Competition, initiated and organized by the publisher of Darling Publications surely will have its influence and impacts for future competitions as its some of his ideas from as early as 2004 did already…

Especially the new concept of the Player Jury Member: In the last 10 years I wittnessed very often compliments of distinguished players praising at highest order the playing qualities and sound of contemporary bows, but returning without even asking the price or showing any desire of owning the highly praised bow.

This happened both in the ateliers of the makers, as well as at expositions and competitions.

This is of course something all bow makers have experienced themselves, but in my opinion not a big help in a competition. By being in such a prestigious Darling Bow Making Competition as Player Jury Member with the very best quality of today´s possible made bows, in my opinion it is to be seen as an honour. And to be taken serious as a Player Juror it simply needs a mutual commitment. As Playing Juror in Competitions we need:

1. Players who are experienced in trying bows in a short time and thrust their own playing and judging ability.

2. Players who like and support Contemporary Bowmaking by playing AND buying contemporary bows.

3. Players, who believe that in this Competition they will find such a great playing and desirable bow.

Players which do not recognize themselves in all 3 descriptions above are recommended to pursue the more traditional ways and are more than welcome to come to the exhibition.

The 1st Darling Bow Making Competition

The Competition Rules:

1. Each Participant can participate with maximum 2 bows for violin, viola or cello (one of each).

2. The bows have to be mounted in silver and ebony.

3. The bows should be unstamped, if stamped, they will be covered by the competition organisation before.

The Competition Jury for Workmanship:

1. 5 Jury Members for Workmanship will be invited my myself on 5-Mai 2016 at the opening of the exhibition. The selection of the Jury Members will be based on diversity of styles and background.

2. They will be chosen from the competitors who are there in person in Amsterdam and have own work in the competition, simultaneously being judged by the 4 other Jury Members.

3. Each Jury Member of Workmanship will get access to the competition bows separately and chose their favorite bow for each instrument, so in total 3, except their own bow(s).

4. No discussing with the other Jury Members. Just their subjective judgment.

5. Each of the 15 Awards carry the name of the Jury Member, this makes the “subjective judgments” into  transparent subjective judgments”.

6. Bows can win multiple awards if turned out to be the favorite of more than one Jury Member.

The Competition Jury for Playability:

1. Jury Members of Playability choose 2 of their favorite playing bows, indicating 1st and 2nd choice.

2. Jury Members for Playability can only be players who commit their judgment by buying the bow they consider their favorite of the competition.

3. The buying price is € 4000,- for all the competing bows, and goes for 100% without deductions to the maker. After the playing days are over, the original selling price of the makers are the selling prices again.

4. The bows will be played before the exhibition opens, to avoid strategic decisions by the Jury players.

5. As some dealer/players inquired for being a Playing Jury, it is decided that they will be accepted as Playing Jury Member). If multiple decicions fall on the same bow, the active musician has the first choice. The dealer/player gets the 2nd. (which is not dramatic, as the chance the bow is chosen for commercial reasons and so to be sold is significant higher, so not necessarily the biggest need in matching a certain instrument or player).

6. In case of 2 active musicians, the right of the first choice will be drawn. The other musician buys the 2nd favorite on his list (which certainly is also excellent!)

7. In all other cases of more than 2 Jury members chosing the same bow, the Jury Members will be served in the order they pre-paid their Jury Member NONREFUNDABLE fee. Date and hour of payment will be written on the sealed envelope.


Unlike other competitions, with either no cash prize at all (Paris 2011) or huge cash prize (less prestigious ones with/because of hardly participants of quality), Darling Publications is known for surprising awards, beside the possibly earned honor and surely to be expected fun and pleasure,; some love it, some hate it (but that´s life…).

The stunning participation list shows already that the quality of the colleague competitors and the prospect to meet these colleagues is unbeatable compared to mere money prizes. So just wait and get surprised!