Top Modern Violin Makers Honored in the 2014 Violin Society of America Competition

September 19, 2014, 1:10 PM · It's a new Golden Age of violin- and bow-making, but how can you find those amazing modern violins that sound as good, hold up better and sell for a much more reasonable price than the old Italians?

Here is one very good place to start: this list of the winners in the 2014 Violin Society of America Competition. I have provided as many links as possible to their websites, if you wish to connect with any of these makers.

This year, the competition has attracted entries from 312 separate makers, representing 26 countries. There were a staggering number of instruments -- 25 judges evaluated a total of 542 entries, including 246 violins, 110 violas, 69 cellos, 9 basses, 80 bows, and 28 instrument quartets. Instruments were be judged over a three-day period for each category.


Here are the winning luthiers and bowmakers in the violin and viola categories (For the list of winners in all categories, please see this page):


Jeff Phillips
Jeff Phillips, with his Gold Medal-winning violin
Gold Medal for Tone and Workmanship: Jeff Phillips

Gold Medal: Collin Gallahue

Silver Medal for Workmanship:
Stephan Von Baehr and Paul Belin
Philip Valentin Ihle
Andrew Ryan

Silver Medal for Tone:
Damon Gray
Xuelin Zhang

Certificate of Merit for Workmanship:
Stephen Quinney
Wei-Xian Zhu
Georg Meiwes
George Yu
Ryan Soltis
John Young
Stefan Lindholm
Haide Lin and Wu Zu Liang

Certificate of Merit for Tone:
Paul Crowley
Artur Friedhoff
Stanley Kiernoziak
Hongbai Qin
Zhen Nian Wang
George Yu


bow table

Gold Medal: Emmanuel Begin

Certificate of Merit:
Victor Bernard
Eric Fournier
Eric Gagne


Gold Medal: Jason Viseltear

Silver Medal for Workmanship
Petio H. Kostov
Jeff Phillips

Silver Medal for Tone:
Edwin Halloran
James Robinson

Certificate of Merit for Workmanship:
Borja Bernabeau
Paul Crowley
Shi Liao and Li Xiu Ding
Zi Qiu Li
Paul Noulet
Ryan Soltis
Isabelle Wilbaux and Louis Gord
Ming-Jiang Zhu

Certificate of Merit for Tone:
Zhi Xin Huang
Guy Cole
Antonio Donato
Anton Domozhyrov
Mark Hough
Yang Kai
Zhen Hua Ling
Steven M. McCann
Georg Meiwes
Jeffrey S. Robinson
Ryan Soltis
Ken Su
Isabelle Wilbaux and Louis Gord


Gold Medal: Eric Fournier

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The VSA's instrument contest certainly is an opportunity for luthiers and bow makers to get their name out by winning a medal, but it also brings together new makers with more experienced ones, and thus allows the opportunity for mentorship.

"It's such an opportunity for everyone to learn something," said luthier Christopher Reuning, who has served as a judge in the past. "Sometimes they are just this close to winning a medal, and there's just one little thing you can tell them -- then they come back and win the next year."

After the judging, makers who entered the competition have chance to talk about their instrument with a judge. Below, judge John Montgomery reviews instruments with makers.


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September 19, 2014 at 11:19 PM · Mr. Phillips is consistent! He's won many times before. That violin he is holding, what do you think it will fetch?

September 20, 2014 at 12:18 PM · Has anyone else noticed that there's only one woman on this list of honorees? Is it that there weren't many female entrants or what? It strikes me as odd.

September 20, 2014 at 06:51 PM · Thanks for the cool writeup, Laurie. It was great to finally meet you in person.

Steven, our violin-making profession isn't highly populated with females. Many of us might wish it otherwise, but it is what it is, and I don't really understand why. Most of us fiddlemakers like girls just fine, so I don't think that's the issue. ;)

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