July 2010

V.com weekend vote: Do you prefer to sit or stand when you play?

July 30, 2010 16:32

 I realize that sometimes a violinist doesn't have a choice about sitting or standing, either because of physical limitations or because of the nature of a gig (such as an orchestra gig, where you will probably sit).

But I'm asking, which do you prefer?

Standing has its advantages: your bow never runs into your knee, and you can really keep your back straight and your posture correct. To me, it's a great position for mobility.

But sitting properly can also allow for good posture, and it can sometimes help a person play for a long time and avoid complete exhaustion.

Now, I didn't include "dancing while playing," but these guys do it all the time and it certainly looks fun!


14 replies

Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti...Doe, a Deer!

July 29, 2010 18:11

Look who came to listen to me practice my fiddle!


I'm in Cincinnati, at my parents' house, which backs up to a woodsy ravine. As I was playing my A major scale routine I was surprised by this deer, which meandered up to the window, looked straight at me and pricked its large ears in attention.

The deer seemed to be enjoying my scales -- or at least it was very intrigued by this new sound. But it ran away as soon as we started taking pictures!

10 replies

Playing the 'Vieuxtemps' Guarneri del Gesù and an ex-Nachèz Strad

July 26, 2010 21:27

"Well, I thought you might like to try this one," said Geoff Fushi, and at this, his daughter, Suzanne Fushi, started to unpack a very normal-looking red violin case.

I knew exactly what was in there, and the adrenaline immediately began to flow.

"The 'Vieuxtemps' Guarneri del Gesù?"

I'd only planned to have lunch with Suzanne, director of the Stradivari Society, an organization which has become so important in matching fine instrument investors with violinists, many whom I've interviewed on Violinist.com.

Of course, I did know that the 1741 'Vieuxtemps' del Gesù was residing in Chicago at Bein and Fushi, the same place where the Stradivari Society is headquartered, on the 10th floor of Chicago's Fine Arts Building. I'd ridden up there on an old-fashioned hand-operated elevator, expecting to tour the shop and hear a bit more about the Society.

But to actually see the 'Vieuxtemps' del Gesù? To play it?

This would be the violin that Yehudi Menuhin reportedly liked better than his beloved "Soil" Strad. ("If my most illustrious violin and the ‘Vieuxtemps’ were in a fire and I could only rescue one, it would be the ‘Vieuxtemps,’" Menuhin once said.)

It's the violin that the famous violin dealer Arthur F. H. Hill wrote about as having "probably the grandest tone of them all" some 120 years ago.

It's the violin that currently has an asking price of $18 million.

My hands began to tremble, picking up the violin. I simply looked at it for a while. It's beautiful -- rather light in color, like honey -- and warm.

I strummed across the strings. Oh geez, it was totally out of tune, I have to tune this thing? What if I break it or drop it or something comes flying off? These are irrational thoughts for someone who has tuned a violin well more than 10,000 times. But consider the circumstances, here! I gingerly turned a peg. It felt pretty much like tuning a violin. I know how to tune a violin. I also know how to play a violin. Let's give it a go.

I played some open strings. Wow, immediately I heard the tone. It's just right. What to play, what to play? Vieuxtemps played this violin, Ysaye played this violin, Menuhin played this violin, and more recently, Philippe Quint, Vadim Gluzman and Joshua Bell...what is this big boy violin going to think of little me? I played that nice rolling beginning of the Bach G minor Partita. Oh, that's okay, but it was not impressed with me. Not enough to tell me any secrets. What to play? A little Meditation? Again, just okay. I'm not really a Paganini Caprice person, but maybe it would like the Tchaik Concerto. I tried it, but the heavens did not open. Wait, wait, Saint Saens – French music perhaps? I tried the beginning of Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. Ah, yes. This was catching on. So sweet on certain notes, and yet it asked for restraint. No need to hold anything too long, don't draw anything out. Simple. Sweet and simple, here's the definition of it, right in this sound. Keep it sweet and simple. But wait, do this one over. I found myself playing things slower, not to draw out the music, but to find the groove. If I'd had longer, I would have gone through it all, just to listen to what the violin was saying and to catch it right, so that I could go back and hit it on-spot, with the short and sweet style.

"I could play it all day," I mentioned. I didn't get the idea that this was going to happen. Geoff smiled, "I brought a Strad for you to play, too, the one played by Tivador Nachèz."

I know who that is. He did the arrangement of the Vivaldi Concerto in A minor that so many people play, that appears in the Suzuki books.

I tried the opening of the Tchaik Concerto on the Strad. My gosh did this thing sound different! My first thought was "my old German factory violin" but that was unfair. It's just hard to step off of a Ferrari and immediately drive away in a Lamborghini. (Okay, I've never driven either, but I'm assuming they feel different!) It didn't want Tchaik. What to play? I cast about, played this, played that. Nothing. Oh duh!

"You want to play Vivaldi, don't you!" I played the opening of the A minor Concerto. WOW! This was actually even more thrilling to me than the Vieuxtemps because it really, really responded. It was so easy, I was just riding the wave. Of course it knows this piece! I switched to the last movement, and when I played the first high 'C' with just a bit of vibrato, I almost laughed with glee. How can I explain what that "C" did? It just wasn't even my "C," it was completely joyous. Then it took me wildly forward: it wanted it fast, it wanted certain articulations, it truly felt like the fiddle was happy. We could have had a very long lesson, that Strad as teacher, I as student. Somehow I just hadn't thought of Baroque music for a Strad, which is silly, but I thought it would want something really virtuosic. It seemed happy with an old friend, the Vivaldi.

It occurred to me, with these violins, that one needs to make a connection with them. I wouldn't try to play something wildly new or out of the repertoire, the first time I played on a fine instrument like these. You have to really pay attention, let it tell you how to play it. I imagine this might take years. Then you would know how to lead it in various directions. I suppose this process is much abbreviated for people who play elite violins on a regular basis – though I would be curious if they, too, find that they have a learning curve. These seem like deep instruments to me, with well-established personalities. You don't want to go against their personalities. I do believe that, in fact, they will not let you.

17 replies

Inventive Teaching

July 19, 2010 19:22

“You need to break in a new fiddle?" said my friend, violinist Bill Wolcott. “Then I've got something to show you!"

On a whim, I had brought along my new Hiroshi Kono fiddle to show Bill while I was visiting him Sunday at the Omaha Conservatory in Nebraska, since I like those fiddles so much for my students and having been enjoying this one for me. I had no idea he'd spring a new invention on me: the Vibralinist (TM).

I watched as he assembled a black box and some wires and hooked them up to his computer. Then he showed me what looked like a mute on steroids, all hooked up to this gizmo. He started some music from iTunes on his computer, and the music came weakly through the gizmo. Then he clamped it onto the bridge of my violin and – Voilà! The music was coming loud and clear – through my fiddle, as though Isaac Stern himself were playing Bach right through my little Hiroshi Kono!

I never realized that my good friend is also a mad inventor! We left my fiddle with Bill's patent-pending "Vibralinist" machine, to feel the vibrations from Stern, Midori, Szigeti and others, and went to get some coffee and catch up. When we came back, I could hear a difference: the sound had opened up just a little more. Bill likes to pipe violin music and also some vocal opera music into violins using the Vibralinist. Amazing!

Our cross-country road trip brought us to Omaha, where Bill teaches. It's a city where I once lived and worked – as a violinist in the Omaha Symphony and as a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. I also had some violin students in Omaha – fantastic students – and when I moved away in 1996, I literally could not find a teacher for them because so few professional violinist were teaching here at the time. This is why I'm happy to see an excellent teacher like Bill teaching full-steam ahead at the Omaha Conservatory, capturing the imagination of his students with both music and technological innovation.

Earlier in the day, I watched as Bill taught 13-year-old Yasmeen, who started her lesson by playing the entire “Souvenir d’Amérique" by Henri Vieuxtemps from memory. Nice! Well-played, great harmonics. She had the piece in good shape and Bill sought to increase her comfort in performing: to give her control, to steady the tempo. He suggested making the dotted notes good and long, placing certain notes, taking time. “That kind of control is so important," he said, “it's not about how fast you play."

He took out some of his gadgetry to help her with the Adagio beginning of Mozart Concerto No. 5. First, he filmed her with a Zoom Q3, a Flip-like video device that records high-quality sound and allows him to easily e-mail the videos to his students. He also had her play the Allegro Aperto from the same movement, but quite under tempo, with piano accompaniment provided by the computer: He uses piano accompaniments from PianoAccompaniments.com and can render them at any tempo – with no degradation of pitch – with the help of The Amazing Slow Downer software, available for Windows as well as Mac computers. Bill isn't just an aficionado of new technology; he loves the old stuff, too.

In his small studio, with its walls covered with black and white photos of Eugene Fodor (who mentored Bill), Anne-Sophie Mutter, Heifetz and more, is an old-fashioned turntable that plays the big vinyl records. By his feet sits a plastic box labeled “Bill's Inventions." What will he come up with next?

(BTW, Bill's Vibralinist is in production at K.C. Strings in Merriam, Kansas.)

16 replies

It's true: I can't say enough about the violin

July 15, 2010 15:58

I took my new fiddle for its first test-drive in public on Sunday, when I played it for a church service in Tacoma, Washington. The verdict: nice ride.

Last weekend brought us to Tacoma to visit some family friends with children the same ages as ours, who used to live close by and go to the same school. Since we would be there on a Sunday, and our friend is senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, I offered to play. This worked out well, since the choir was on summer break.

Naturally, I played "Meditation from Thais." I play it so frequently that I sometimes make the mistake of thinking that everyone must be tired of it. Not true! Most people hear it very seldom, and they love it because they recognize it.

"I had tears in my eyes," said one woman afterwards, shaking my hand, "My mother was a concert violinist, and my father was a pianist, so you can imagine, it brought back so many memories!" The associate pastor confessed to being a violinist and playing the piece for a college audition. Another woman told me she used to play violin in the Seattle Symphony and teach violin, "until I sold my violin and never played it again. I love the tone of your violin!"

At this, I just had to confess. "My fiddle is a newborn!"


"Yes! The varnish is barely dry!" I picked up the fiddle and stood right next to her as she peered into the f-hole, "Hiroshi Kono, Tokyo, 2010."

I spoke with the other church musicians -- about managing a musician's life with children, about teaching, about how fun it was to play together.

In the end, Robert had to drag me from the church. I would have stayed all day chit-chatting. Yes, I can't say enough about the violin. It's true!


10 replies

V.com friends in Vancouver

July 11, 2010 15:31


Robert and I founded Violinist.com some 12 years ago, and one of the things I've enjoyed most about it has been meeting wonderful people from all over the world.

When our family decided to go to Vancouver, Canada, I knew that there were a few V.commies there, so on Friday I was happy to meet Jennifer Leong, Yixi Zhang and Kelsey Zachary -- friends that felt like old buddies, though we'd never met in "real life"! 

Nonetheless, we do go back a long way. For example, when I was considering purchasing a fine violin (a major life decision) some four years ago, Jennifer wrote me a beautiful note of encouragement with just the right kind of perspective to help me feel like I was making a good decision. I did get the violin, and I have never regretted it. 

Laurie and Jennifer Leong

On Friday Jennifer led me and my family around Vancouver's Stanley Park "seawall" by bike. It's a gorgeous city trail that nonetheless allows for vistas of mountains, sea, majestic bridges, cityscapes, harbors, tall pines and more. It was breathtaking, and it got me back on a bike for the first time in many years. A little wobbly at first, but it came back!

We then took a ferry to another part of town and met Yixi -- whose creativity in so many realms has inspired me for a long time. She plays the violin, she sews, she makes soap (it's really art, the scents and oils she combines, the creamy texture, the shapes and colors…) What a treat to meet this dynamic being in person!

We also met Kelsey, who joined V.com in 2002, and by my calculations, she was a young teen at the time! I feel like I've watched her grow up. Now she's in her final year at the University of British Columbia, playing recitals, winning commissions, having her compositions played by pros, getting her gorgeous photography published, and also doing an eight-day hike along Vancouver Island's west coast -- wow!

Yixi, Laurie, Jennifer and Kelsey

These women met each other on V.com, and from the way they talked, I could see that they've been a real support to one another. I like to hear that V.com is bringing people together in this way. The aim of Violinist.com is to provide support for violinists and foster a sense of community among people who want to make this instrument, and its music, part of their lives. 

Laurie: "I love Vancouver!"

9 replies

Teaching a violin

July 7, 2010 22:45

I must say, I'm enjoying the opportunity to teach a new violin.

Certainly, I've taught a lot of new violinists, but I don't often get a newborn fiddle in my hands, as I did this week with the Hiroshi Kono -- a 2010 with barely-dried varnish.

It sounds a little strange. You may be wondering, what on earth do you have to teach a violin? You just play it, right?

Well, it's not so simple. A new violin is doing something that it never did in its life as a tree: making a specific kind of sound. Sure, the wind might have whistled through its branches, but really, this is something new.

In a nutshell: The wood of a violin resonates when you play it. If you can make the wood resonate properly, you can open up the the violin's voice. If you play the violin carelessly, the voice actually shuts down because the wood is not resonating. For example, it's quite possible for me to pick up one of my students' violins and to tell if that student has been playing all week, simply from how the violin sounds, as I know all their violins. The violin will be louder and clearer if the student has played it all week; even more so if the student plays consistently in tune.

Playing in tune makes the violin resonate more, so this is important.

On this new violin that I'm training, I noticed today that it feels as though the fiddle still has to learn the very basic grooves. It is learning how to resonate on the most elemental notes of the violin: the open strings and all their companions, and then notes of related scales. At this point, the violin isn't too picky and isn't really telling me much. Instead, I'm giving all the instruction. For example, it doesn't get way, way more resonant when I play a first-finger “E” on the “D” string because it hasn't really played that note any more than it's done anything else. It will even settle for a slightly out-of-tune “E,” without putting up a huge protest. But if I play a very, very in-tune “E” repeatedly, I can almost hear the violin getting the groove, learning that “E” is going to be very important in its vocabulary. It resonates more and more, and the note becomes more specific. It's like teaching a child to speak!

Has anyone else had this experience?

28 replies

On the road again

July 6, 2010 22:41

When Robert and I met some 20 years ago, we knew right away that we had a mutual love...for road trips! It boiled down to approximately this:

“I love you...” happy sigh.

“I love you too.”

“Hit the road?”

“Let's do it!”

In the first year we met, we drove from Bloomington, Indiana, where we lived, to: Los Angeles – in two days; to New York for a friend's wedding; to Orlando...any excuse, we were off.

So it comes as no surprise that our kids also enjoy marathon road trips. Last year we drove from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and back again, in our Prius, with much meandering. This year, we are headed to the American Northwest, then we'll do a diagonal across the country (Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Orlando...) We don't rent an RV, we go in the Prius, and we are visiting friends and relatives, and even some V.commies!

“I think the best part is getting up when it's still dark and hitting the road,” sighed my son.

“I feel like I now know how to handle 12 hours in the car,” said my daughter, assembling her books, crafts, music, etc.

While we're gone, a cello teacher is living in our home – keeping my fountain flowing and the music going. And my Gagliano is hangin' with its brothers – quite literally. It's on a hook at Marquis Violins, alongside an Alexandro Gagliano. Thanks to my LA violinist friend Michael Ferril and luthier Bill Weaver of Maryland, I'm taking along a nice student violin, a Hiroshi Kono violin made in Tokyo, which sounds like a million bucks. (Considering that a certain Guarneri is going for $18 million, this might not be too much of an exaggeration!) At any rate, it's the best budget sound I've found, and after recommending them to some half-dozen of my students, I've finally taken the plunge to get myself one as well, for those times when I can't use my Italian. This way I can play some Bach, learn Adam DeGraff's Slash tune, improvise to my son's video games and nail down that Dvorak Romance this summer.

But the road, the road, am I happy to be on the road! We set out this morning at 6 a.m. and drove all the way from Pasadena, Calif., to just over the border in Oregon. I had never seen northern California, and I was instantly in love. I've completely redefined my idea of paradise:

I was dazzled by snow-capped Mt. Shasta on a 100-degree day, by mountainsides packed with multiple species of tall evergreen trees, by the deep blue of Shasta Lake...it's gorgeous up here.

Over the next few months I'll be blogging from time to time, especially when I have something music-related or violin-related to share, but sometimes I'll post a blog just to show you a pretty picture. I will not be writing the Community News this summer but will resume this feature in September. If you have a news item – either your own or anything you see in the news that you feel is important to our community – please feel free to post it directly to the Discussion Board under “News,” or to blog about it.

I will leave you with a few more pictures. Happy trails!

5 replies

One Voice -- Happy July 4

July 4, 2010 13:02

Sometimes I think that the solo voice of a violin can be very poignant, when it comes to patriotic music. Many years ago I played the Marine Hymn at Robert's grandfather's funeral -- he was a veteran of World War II. I had been feeling bad that I had no piano accompaniment, feeling that it would sound so thin and inadequate. But when that lone voice started over the silence, and I felt all ears attuned to that one sound, it was more powerful than anything I could have planned. One life makes a difference, one voice makes a difference.

Here is a beautiful live performance of the U.S. National Anthem by my friend Peter Wilson, who is a violinist in the U.S. Marine Band. Happy July 4th!



4 replies

Violinist.com interview with Jennifer Koh

July 1, 2010 10:50

Sometimes music helps us connect with feelings we don't even know we have.

This is an idea that violinist Jennifer Koh has embraced, both in performance and in life.

Take, for example, the piece "Lachen Verlernt," ("Laughter Unlearnt") by Esa-Pekka Salonen, from Jennifer's most recent recording, Rhapsodic Musings.

"The inspiration for the piece came from Pierrot Lunaire, from the one poem where the speaker is begging Pierrot to remind her how to laugh again, how to feel again, how to connect," Jennifer said. "It served as many metaphors for me: how a performer tries to communicate and reach an audience, and also how music helps us reconnect with emotions we didn't realize we had, or emotions that are long-forgotten."

Jennifer has played with major symphonies the world over since winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994 and Avery Fischer Career Grant in 1995. She plays the 1727 Ex Grumiaux Ex General DuPont Strad, on loan from a private patron, and these days her projects often evolve from personal inspiration. Her feelings following September 11, 2001, inspired "Rhapsodic Musings," featuring music written in tribute and in memorium; music written just before and just after that fateful day: Elliott Carter's "Four Lauds;" Augusta Read Thomas's "Pulsar"; and John Zorn's "Goetia," written for Jennifer. On the CD is also a video, if you pop it into your computer. Salonen's piece is depicted in a video by Tal Rosner, as lines intersecting – imagine strings with a bow, or a child's pick-up-sticks. It's simple and abstract, almost like vintage computer animation, yet mesmerizing in its movement and direction, which so closely resembles the music.

An upcoming project speaks to Jennifer's Korean heritage and the emotional legacy of her parents, who were war survivors. Jennifer will premiere a piece called "Mugunghwa: Rose of Sharon" by composer Mark Grey next March with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

"About three years ago in the fall, my mother got sick," Jennifer said. "I'm an only child, so it was very difficult. I realized, when my mom was sick, she was only speaking Korean, and I don't really speak Korean. It was really difficult, but it made me want to explore more about that part of my heritage, my culture. So I started to do a lot of research into the cultural history of Korea, and into our family's history. Then I started going into the direction of Korean literature."

"Before that, Mark and I had met, and we were thinking about a project to do, and I realized, the more he and I were speaking, that I wanted it to be about a kind of Korean-American experience," Jennifer said. Jennifer was born in America and grew up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. "When I was growing up, I had a huge disconnect -- I didn't really identify as a Korean. I identified, at most, as an Asian-American. I realized how I had always filtered different experiences in my life through art, through literature; or through music, through opera. And I didn't really have Korean-American music. I didn't really have that kind of voice to identify with. So I wanted to create a piece based on that."

"My mother's family is originally from North Korea, and they literally walked down the entire peninsula of Korea over the course of three years, during the Korean War," Jennifer said. "I wanted to explore further, to understand who (my mother) is, and who she is because of her experience. The more I explored it, the more I realized that it affected not only my generation, but also those who are a little older and a little younger. An entire nation had gone through this war. Every once in a while, Americans are reminded that, yes, Korea's still essentially at war, between North and South."

"So I wanted to use music as a way to creatively understand my mother's experience," Jennifer said. During her mother's early years as a refugee, "It was such a difficult time, it was all about survival. There was no room to think, 'How am I feeling?' It almost becomes the next generation's job to think, how did my mom actually experience this, and how could she have felt when she was five, and people were shot in front of her all the time? Even when I say it out loud, it's shocking for me, to think of what my mother went through – and how lucky I am. It's not something that we think about every day."

Because of her hardships, "I was able to be born here and study the violin, and now I can't imagine my life being any different," Jennifer said. "So it's been a very interesting process for me, and I hope that it's an interesting process for the audience. My hope for the piece is that it gives voice for Korean Americans."

Another project that grew from her desire to connect with history – to link the old and the new – is a series of recitals called "Bach and Beyond."

"It's interesting, because out of each step comes the next project," Jennifer said. "Out the 'Rhapsodic Musings' CD, I came up with the 'Bach and Beyond' project. It's a three-part project, spreading over six years, and each part goes over two seasons. 'Bach and Beyond, Part 1' includes the E major Partita by Bach and the second sonata by Ysaye, which includes part of the (Bach's) E major (Partita) in it, but then it also goes in to the Dies Irae, which is motivic material that goes throughout the sonata. The Dies Irae, as we know, is usually equated with death – the death mass. In that sense, I wanted it to come from light to dark. So then I go into (Elliott Carter's) 'Fantasy – Remembering Roger (Sessions)' and and 'Nocturne' by Kaija Saariaho, which is written in memory of Lutoslawski, she wrote it in the months after he passed away; he was a large influence on her life. Then I moved into Esa-Pekka's 'Lachen Verlernt,' which is based on a chaconne, which gets into the second half of the program which is the D minor Partita (by Bach – which includes the great Chaconne). In a sense, it's kind of the struggle from dark into light. The D minor Partita, which closes the program, is about moving into the light. It's an amazing journey."

The next Bach and Beyond program will be based on the idea of "firsts" and include some commissions.

"I wanted to illustrate how we can connect our society today with the past," Jennifer said. "Bach was alive 325 years ago, and he's still relevant today." All the programs will have Bach at the beginning, and then Bach at the end, the idea being that Bach changes the way a person perceives the contemporary music, and the contemporary music also then has an effect on how one listens to Bach. "The connection can be just subconscious," Jennifer said. "It doesn't have to be that everybody sees it literally, because sometimes there's just a subconscious connection."

Jennifer started playing the violin at the local Suzuki school in suburban Chicago. "I think that when I was growing up, my parents wanted to offer me all the things that they never had. So they started me in ice skating, and swimming, and gymnastics, and rhythmic gymnastics and diving – and ballet, that was such a disaster! Anything that involved me moving my body in public was just not for me! But I loved swimming-- and violin."

Jennifer remains close to her first violin teacher, Jo Davis.

"She was just wonderful, I actually think that the reason I probably went into violin is because of her," Jennifer said. "She really instilled in me a love for music." When Jennifer was seven, Davis told her it was time for her to move on to another teacher, and then "she herself went out and checked out all these different teachers in the area." When Jennifer started studying with Roland and Almita Vamos, Davis "went to every single lesson with them for a year, and she actually would practice with me, to make sure I understood. So she's always been an incredible kind of force in my life."

By age 11, Jennifer had soloed with the Chicago Symphony. She studied with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir at the Curtis Institute, and she also studied at Oberlin – and not just music. She also earned an English degree.

"When I look back, I think that it was one of the most important things that I did," Jennifer said of her English degree. "I remember, at the end of my freshman year at Oberlin, everybody was telling me to go full-throttle into a massive career, to move to New York and to do all these things. I was lucky at the time that it was clear enough to me that I should stay in school. I really wanted to finish my English degree. It just gave me all this space to not only grow up as a person, but also as a musician."

Not only did it get her thinking about other disciplines, but it also showed her that she could step off the expected path. Following her conviction to get an English degree gave her the kind of mindset she would later need to try commissioning composers, doing solo violin recitals, doing a CD with only 21st century violin music....

"There's a greater meaning to what you're doing than just doing everything perfectly," Jennifer said. As Marcel Proust said, "the most important thing is that you carve out a path for yourself. It's not always the well-trodden path, it's not always the clearest way, it's not the easiest. It might be incredibly hard, and scary, and challenging. But I often find that the projects that fill me with the most fear are usually the most rewarding! It's worth it to take that path."

Jennifer has played on the ex-Grumiaux Strad since 1997.

"I think when you work with a violin that you really love, it becomes like another entity, another personality. Currently I play on the ex-Grumiaux Strad," Jennifer said, and the instrument still embodies the music that Arthur Grumiaux made with it. "There can be incredible moments during a concert, where you feel this incredible energy of everybody is connected in this one moment of time, and in a way, it's still captured in the instrument. It's still there."

"Violins have very strong personalities of their own. You learn a lot when you play. You also have to be malleable. It's like a conversation with another person; you can't just dominate the conversation – then it's not a conversation. So in a sense, it's like a very intimate conversation that you're having with this instrument, and sometimes in the most profound ways and the most intimately emotional ways.

"One of my teachers, Felix Galimir, passed away, and a couple years after that I saw his Strad in New York. I asked to play it, and as soon as I played, it was like Felix was right back there with me. I mean, it's incredible."

"The only thing that makes me sad is that they're not affordable for musicians any more, which they were in the past," Jennifer said. "I think the problem in the United States is that we don't have a long-term loan program for our musicians, whereas national banks, almost in every other nation, invest in instruments and loan them out because they realize that they're actually a good investment and valuable. But we don't have that in this country, and that makes it very difficult."

"It makes me sad that I don't know where Felix's Strad went. I hope it went to somebody who knew him, but you never know."


3 replies

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