The most important contest for young musicians here, the 10th annual Aviv competition starts this week. Elgibile to local musicians between the ages of 21 and 32 on the threshold of their performing careers, most of the competition's activities are open to the public free of charge. Aviv's musical disciplines vary from year to year. This year 29 pianists, violinists, brass players and conductors, including nine currently studying or working abroad, will compete for prizes. The competition has commissioned nine pieces for brass instruments from three young Israeli composers - Omer Welber, Sivan Cohen Elias and Ronen Shai. The contenders in the conducting category will lead The Tel Aviv Soloists ensemble at the first round, which takes place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Arts, and the Jerusalem Symphony at Henry Crown Hall in Jerusalem at the final stage. The contest concludes with a festive concert of the winners, performing with the Jerusalem Symphony under Uri Segal at Henry Crown Hall. "The importance of the competition for young musicians is difficult to overestimate," says Gideon Paz, head of the America Israel Culture Foundation, which organizes the contest. "The winners receive not only monetary prizes [ranging from $4000 to $8000] and discs of their performance, but also the possibility to appear as soloists. From past experience, we also know that their future engagements often result from their concerts as the competition winners." The contest opens with a festive concert Saturday night at the Tel Aviv Museum, with past winners, such as Guy Braunstein, now principal violinist of the Berlin Philharmonic, cellist Zvi Plesser and violist Amihai Gross taking part. The 2008 Aviv Competition takes place this Saturday through January 1. For more information, call (03) 607-7009.