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!

Lafont Model Violin by Walter Mahoney

Here are several photographs of a stunning Lafont model violin recently completed by violinmaker Walter Mahoney, who works in the studio:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Preview of Gregg's Violinmaking Trip to China

There is only about a week remaining before Gregg's tip to China! Gregg will be blogging and sending photos from the trip, so we thought that we would offer a preview of things to come.

Gregg will start his trip in Shangai, where he will be giving a lecture on violinmaking at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and meeting with Hua Tianreng, who is a fellow member of Entente International Luthiers et Archetiers. Gregg will also be meeting with the President of the China Violinmaking Association in Shanghai.

From there, Gregg and his son Leo will spend time hiking, cycling, and backpacking near Guilin, China, before traveling to Bejing, where Gregg will be teaching classes for the violinmaking program at the Central Conservatory of Music and serving as a judge for the China International Violinmaking Competition.

We hope that you will follow along on this fascinating trip to China! As always, we welcome your comments and questions along the way.