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.