Strings Magazine - violin reading

September 4, 2020, 8:41 PM · For my birthday this year, my sister ended up getting me a 12-month subscription to the Strings magazine. Now, I can't remember when I last had a magazine or newspaper subscription, with everything online. And with me away at school and the magazines not coming in till November apparently due to the pandemic, I am still reading last month's issue as a PDF. But still, it's really fun to have modern reading material all about my favorite musical instrument!

My violin teacher put out these older editions of string magazines like this one or the Strad (I remember TwoSetViolin saying something similar with their teachers when they were showing off being on the cover of the Strad recently!). I was able to take a few of them home before I left Augustana, and enjoyed reading through them this summer. That's where I decided I wouldn't mind having a yearly subscription to enjoy reading through them in some of my spare time. I'm sure you've all read a music magazine at some point, but I just thought I'd write about my experiences reading it to enjoy looking back on later.

I have issue 296 at the moment saved on my computer to read for now, and it's really fun! I always enjoyed seeing the adverts in program notes for various music-related things, like more concerts or albums and things like that. In this violin magazine, they are geared toward these '80s-style colorful "electrifying" Kun rests that remind me of the different colored Nintendo GameCubes, or Shar violin cases, or for violin shops and music conservatories. This issue has a lot on COVID-19, of course, and talking about music as providing hope in these dark times. I enjoyed reading an interview with the Alexander String Quartet, where they discuss swapping out violists and recording their newest album of Brahms Quartets. A special viola made around 1550 by Peregrino di Zanetto that Beethoven played, whose current player, Teng Li, was interviewed about - so cool! I think the L.A. Phil had purchased it in 1964 - it's so neat to see how old instruments trade hands throughout the world, leading up to today, as happy as I am with my modern-made instrument. Speaking of, immediately following that is an interview with violin maker David Bonsey - ah, he was on the TV show Antiques Roadshow, talking to family members about instruments found in the attics of grandparents' homes and things. An interesting question is often asked: do violinmakers come into the business through woodworking or music? Just like me as a composer hearing a new piece come to life, it is special for him to hear one of his violins by a wonderful player - he creates certain qualities that make it a David Bonsey violin.

Anyways - not totally sure what the point of this little blog post was, but it's really fun to flip through these magazines and see what all there is in the strings world. Maybe after this year is up, I can try reading the Strad, see if I can note any differences or which I prefer - but at the end of the day either way, it's fantastic light-reading about new developments and with great people in the modern musical string world. Just like this website,, is as well!


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Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine