Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

We had a great time attending the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.  Congratulations to all of the participants, the six laureates, and to everyone who was involved in organizing such a terrific event.

(The competition had its name in lights on a building on Monument Circle in Indianapolis)

We enjoyed watching the finals of the competition on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  The performances are available for viewing on the competition's website and excellent coverage of the competition is provided by Laurie Niles on

On Saturday and Sunday, we had the opportunity to meet many players who tried four of Gregg's violins, one of Gregg's violas, and one of Gregg's 'cellos at the "Spotlight on Today's Violin Makers" event.

(Zachary Du Pue, Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, tries one of Gregg's violins)

(Rodney Friend, a member of the jury at the competition, tries one of Gregg's violins)

Gregg is now off to Italy to attend Mondomusica 2010 and the exhibition of Carlo Bergonzi violins.  Check back soon for photos from those events!

Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Gregg is honored to once again be participating in the "Spotlight on Today's Makers" exhibition during the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis on September 25-26.  You can follow the Indianapolis Competition on Twitter and follow their blog.

In the studio, Gregg is working to complete several instruments to bring to the exhibition and plans to have violins, a viola, and a cello on hand for the participants and attendees at the competition to play.  As a preview, here are some photos of the instruments in the varnish room:

If you are planning to attend the Indianapolis Competition, please be sure to stop by and say hello!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oberlin Violinmaking Workshop - Part 2

The VSA violinmaking workshop at Oberlin College is winding up after two exciting and eventful weeks. Yesterday, Jonah Sirota, violist of the Chiara String Quartet and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln visited the workshop. Jonah plays a Testore model viola made by Gregg in 2009.

Jonah also graciously agreed to participate in a listening experiment, during which 5 violas were played by Jonah and 24 violins were played by violinist Jing Qiao, who is studying at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Each viola and violin was rated in various categories by the audience members.

In addition to Gregg's Testore model viola being part of the experiment, an Ole Bull violin made by Gregg's apprentice Zak was also part of the experiment. Here is a photo of Ms. Qiao playing Zak's Ole Bull, with Gregg looking on:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oberlin Violinmaking Workshop

Gregg is participating in the Violin Society of America's annual violinmaking workshop at Oberlin College for the next two weeks. The workshop brings top violinmakers from around the world together to learn from each other. Here are a few photos from the first day of this year's workshop:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Celebration of Ole Bull in Bergen, Norway

Gregg is attending the Celebration of Ole Bull in Bergen, Norway, where his copy of the del Gesu "Ole Bull" violin is on display, along with 13 original late del Gesu violins (including the original Ole Bull) and other modern violins. Here are some photos from the event and from Ole Bull's house.

The old instrument expo room:

The original del Gesu "Ole Bull" violin (left) and the "Terminator" (right):

Ole Bull's house near Bergen:

Gregg and a distant grandson of Ole Bull at Ole Bull's house:

Violinmakers John Dilworth, Sam Zygmuntowicz and Gregg at Ole Bull's house:

A fjord near Ole Bull's house:

Ole Bull's bedroom with Soloman columns and ... yikes!

The view from Ole Bull's music room:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Photos from the China International Violinmaking Competititon

Here are some photos that Gregg sent from China, where he is currently serving as a judge in the China International Violinmaking Competition.

Gregg in front of the Beijing Conservatory of Music, where the competition is being held:

Gregg, Feng Jiang, and a local Beijing violin collector standing by a Gregg Alf violin on display at the competition:

Gregg and the assistant who is helping him record the scores:

Gregg and fellow judge Ming-Jiang Zhu from China:

Photo of the competition jury panel:

Tone judges Roger Chase and Markus Stocker:

Admiring the original del Gesu violin that Gregg brought to the competition:

Trying out Gregg's violins after his lecture at the conservatory:

Gregg and Dai-Ting Chung from the Chi Mei Foundation admiring each other's violins:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gregg's Violinmaking Trip to China - Part 2

We just received some photos from Gregg in China to share with you!

Since his last update, Gregg has presented lectures and demonstrations in violinmaking at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music:

When the work in Shanghai was done, Gregg and his son Leo had an opportunity do some hiking, biking, and rafting near Guilin, China. Here is a photo of Gregg and Leo cruising down the Li River:

Then, Leo boarded a flight home, and Gregg went on to Beijing, where he will serve as a judge in the China International Violinmaking Competition. Here are some "pre-competition" photos of Gregg with the competition assistants and the room where the competition will be held:

Check back in coming days for more photos and updates from the competition!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gregg's Update from China -Part 1

On April 14, my son Leo and I arrived in Shanghai. Dead tired from the long trip, we thought we going to get a chance to crash at our swanky Bund Street hotel. But as the driver sent by our gracious host, Mr. Li Shu, pointed his BMW 750 Li north away from Shanghai, we realized that there were other plans for us.

The next day we awoke in Taixin, a small town with a long tradition for violin making. Mr. Li Shu has the largest violinmaking factory in China, which is the same as saying in the world. According to the figures we heard, the Fengling Violinmaking Company makes about 1/3 of the world's supply of violins and over 50% of the instruments sent to the USA. I am assured that any tips I can provide for improving their work will have a big effect.

To commemorate the visit, I brought a small globe that turns slowly by solar power. Its inscribed with word of friendship from the American members of EILA (the International Entente of Violinmakers), for which I am currently serving as National Delegate.

After a friendly exchange of gifts, the tour was over and it was lunch time. A big vegetarian feast had been prepared in our honor. Our healthy practices didn't keep the wine from flowing, and what the Chinese call wine, is actually a 42 proof liquor akin to vodka. Great for the jet lag and the long drive back in to Shanghai.

Tomorrow, we will visit the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where I will be lecturing about violin varnishing and showing a rare Guarneri del Gesu violin ... oh and an unantiqued Peter of Venice copy by yours truly. Pietro Guarneri was del Gesu's brother. He had to leave town after completing his apprenticeship in the Guarneri shop, in search of a wider market.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ole Bull Violin by Zachary Moen

Here are some photographs of a violin based on the 1744 Del Gesu "Ole Bull" violin that was just completed by Gregg's apprentice Zachary Moen. This instrument will be displayed as part of the Ole Bull Del Gesu Project during the Menuhin Competition in Oslo, Norway starting April 16. If anyone is attending the Menuhin Competition, please be sure to stop by and play this instrument! For those who are not attending, Zak will also be posting blog updates from Norway, so be sure to check back regularly!