Kenneth Martinson, is the Past President of the International Viola Society, and is the owner of Gems Music Publications, a company devoted to promoting rare and previously out of print or unpublished viola scores to help broaden the available viola repertoire. Gems Music Publications has won 4 Paul Revere Awards from the American Music Publishers Association in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017 in the notesetting, full scores, chamber music, and solo works categories respectively. Formerly, he was an assistant professor of Viola at University of Florida, Western Illinois University, and the Crane School of Music- SUNY Potsdam (Potsdam, NY), as well as resident faculty at Viterbo College (LaCrosse, WI). Recently, he has finished his D.M.A. from Stony Brook University and his previous musical training includes his M.M. (Viola Performance) from the Eastman School of Music (1994) as a student of Martha Katz, and his B.M. (Viola Performance/Music Composition) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1993), where he was a student of Yizhak Schotten. He is also the founding President of the Florida Viola Society, and he has served previously as Secretary of both the American and International Viola Societies.
Ken had an early success in becoming the principal violist of the Interlochen World Youth Symphony. He was formerly the violist of the Julstrom String Quartet, the Potsdam Piano Quartet, the Artaria Quartet of Boston, and the Rackham String Quartet. He has won numerous awards such as first prize at the Coleman, Carmel, MTNA, and Yellow Springs Competitions. He was also a winner of the 1993 Cleveland Quartet Competition as well as a prizewinner at the Bucchi International Competition (Rome) and the WAMSO Competition (Minneapolis), and was the winner of the 1995 Richardson Awards (Lansing, MI). Mr. Martinson has held principal chairs in the Brevard (Melbourne, FL), Orlando, Toledo, Peoria, Lansing, Dubuque, Orchestra of Northern New York, and Santa Cruz Symphonies. As principal violist of these orchestras he has performed solo viola concertos, such as Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante (Brevard SO), Martinu Rhapsody Concerto (Peoria SO), Milhaud Viola Concerto No. 1 (Dubuque SO), and Bartok Concert (Orchestra of N. NY) to name a few. Ken is a frequent recitalist and has performed intensely challenging programs such as the 4 solo sonatas of Paul Hindemith, and the complete sonatas of Darius Milhaud, also on his CD released by Centaur Records [CRC 2479]. He also has two other discs released by Centaur; viola chamber music of Rebecca Clarke [CRC 2847], and Bohuslav Martinů [CRC 2852].
His article "The Viola Music of Milhaud" was published by the American Viola Society Journal, vol. 15, no. 1. Mr. Martinson has been serving as an assistant editor of the Journal for the American Viola Society where he had his own column for reviewing new viola compositions and publications. The Toledo Blade has described his sound as being "rich and tawny, and one would like to hear it even more". Ken has performed throughout the United States and Canada as well as Brazil, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Russia, South Africa, and Switzerland, and was a featured guest artist at the 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2019 International Viola Congresses. At the 2017 congress, he performed the world premiere performance of the Alessandro Rolla Viola Concerto in D, BI. 542, a work which was left unfinished by the composer, and has been finished and published by Martinson. He also recently served on the faculty at the Casa da Musica at the Ouro Branco Music Festival in Brazil and the Stringwood Summer Chamber Music Institute in Minnesota.