With the desire to improve the professionalism of master luthiers of string instruments and to provide quality instruments to young performers at the beginning of their careers, the creative cultural enterprise from Milan (Italy) Le Dimore del Quartetto, which has been supporting international string quartets and chamber ensembles since 2015, came up with a new project. It was realized in cooperation with the “Antonio Stradivari” Violin Museum Foundation (Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari) and is called “The String Circle”. This network aims to nurture the collective elements of artistic creation and musical performance, with a special emphasis on the development of the combination of the work of artisans and musicians, in a dynamic where one creates the conditions for the full expressiveness of the other and vice versa. With this, the creators of the project want to show how the technical skill of the craftsman is actually a necessary condition for the artistic creativity of a performer to reach its peak.
String instrument crafters (also known as luthiers or luthiers, which comes from the French word “luthier” and even further from saying “luth” – lute; builders of stringed instruments) chosen by the Violin Museum offer the musicians of the Le Dimore del Quartetto network the opportunity to lend and use one or more instruments, as well as a range of services such as instrument repair, maintenance and storage. In order to make it easier for those interested to find craft workshops, they are marked on an interactive map that makes it easier to find them. In addition, this widespread network of Master Luthiers is engaged in researching and finding top craftsmen, whose quality of work has received international recognition. With the patronage of the “Metiers d’Art” Foundation in Milan, in the neighborhood of Colonia, the art of craftwork and the making of stringed instruments takes on a new dimension and importance in the art world. String players know that the Antonio Stradivari Violin Museum Foundation has been protecting and promoting the value of classical and contemporary Cremonese violins since 1976. From the beginning of the idea until today, with a constant dedication to research and rediscovery of the great masters of the past and their work, numerous recognitions for the work of the best luthiers of today have been awarded.
All this certainly attracts a lot of attention from the public, especially young string players, and in this regard, Gianluca Galimberti, mayor of Cremona and president of the “Antonio Stradivari” Violin Museum Foundation, points out that it is very important that this project takes place in that city. He also says that “precisely because of the worldwide centrality of the city in the production of string instruments according to a tradition that has lasted for 5 centuries and has led to the UNESCO recognition of the violin making tradition as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The safeguard plan is active, a very important moment for the community, called to reflect on the potential and the sharing of objectives. The know-how is consolidated in the meeting of different and akin knowledge, such as those of luthier and musician, in the contribution of the Institutions and in the involvement of the Territory.” The founder and president of the Le Dimore del Quartetto network, Francesca Moncada, who has already participated in the realization of two large and important projects – MUSA and MERITA – dedicated her experience, skill and knowledge to this important project, which not only contributes to the development and better relationship between the contemporary artist and the violin maker, but rather cherishes traditional values, the five-century work of former craftsmen. “The Contemporary High Lutherie is an essential element for the classical music production to be healthy and sustainable. – With The String Circle the virtuous circle sparked from Le Dimore del Quartetto is completed, where the network and the exchange of resources generate value for the community and for all the partners involved.”
Virginia Villa, General Manager of the Antonio Stradivari Violin Museum Foundation says that: “The participation in The String Circle stems from the sharing of meanings, values, objectives that Museo del Violino fervently pursues: defending the world of arts and culture, promoting the youth, protecting knowledge linked to the Territories.”. Paolo Bodini, Managing Director for the lutherie of the Foundation of the Violin Museum “Antonio Stradivari” and president of “Friends of Stradivari” believes that: “These commitments find concrete expression in the creative cultural action, promoted by Le Dimore del Quartetto, which supports ensembles at the beginning of their careers and enhances Cremona and violin making, with widespread patronage and principles of circular economy.”. In this light, it could be said that this project raises awareness of the importance of the work and existence of both luthiers and performers. Until the end, however, it cannot be determined who contributes more to the beauty of the sound – whether it is the skill of the luthier or the skill of the performer, but certainly that their mutual relationship lives on and leads to the establishment of an exciting dialectical development that directs both of them towards overcoming their own technical and expressive limits. A great musician with his needs leads the luthier to overcome the “established rules” of his art, thus a great luthier opens up a world of unprecedented expressive possibilities to the musician. Nevertheless, both personalities fulfill their calling: an incomparable instrument and an unforgettable performance.
“I’ve immediately joined the beautiful initiative The String Circle which involves us together with Le Dimore del Quartetto and the young and promising musicians of their network – says Stefano Trabucchi, Master Luthier –I think that the very word “circle” makes it clear the importance of this circularity of luthier’s knowledge, which meets, through our instruments, the talented young instrumentalists of the quartets and their attentive and passionate audiences. A unique and exclusive way for new relationships and acquaintances in the name of music, violin making and art.”. The project was praised and described by the Artistic Director of the Le Dimore del Quartetto network Simone Gramaglia with the words:“The String Circle is an innovative, open and fundamental project for all young talented musicians who are projected into the excellence of contemporary lutherie and can find the most suitable instrument for their artistic needs. The String Circle is the demonstration of how much contemporary lutherie can give to the world of classical music, giving it its voice and creating its sound. The direct contact between luthiers and talented young musicians can only be a great source of inspiration for both categories, so close, so bounded.”
In addition to emphasizing the fusion of craftsmanship and music through this project, the principles of the circular economy are also included, which leads to the improvement of mutual support between the two areas. In this economy, the leading role is played by collectors of examples of modern handmade instruments, who can be demanding clients, but also innovative patrons. The identification and involvement of collectors (actual and potential) willing to cooperate in the project is therefore one of the essential goals in order to transform the widespread collection into a permanent collection and develop concrete support for workshops of excellence and quality. Several new luthiers have joined The String Circle already. The first ten Master Luthier and bow-makers to have joined are Luca Baratto (Cremona, Italy), Michele Buccellè (Acquanegra Cremonese, CR, Italy), Stefano Conia (Cremona, Italy), Ulrike Dederer (Zurich, Switzerland), Mira Gruszow e Gideon Baumblatt (Werder, Germany), Gawang Jung (Cremona, Italy), Marco Nolli (Cremona, Italy), Emilio e Luca Slaviero (Cremona, Italy), Stefano Trabucchi (Cremona, Italy).
The founders of the project, when designing and implementing it, had the goal that, through knowledge and training, all luthiers and performers would continuously face and gain awareness of the importance of the role they play in the contemporary music scene. Thanks to a wide collection of modern instruments, they can strive to obtain a continuous growth of relations, which will enable the establishment of a system aimed at the circulation of resources and skills necessary for professionals in the modern music world.
You can find out more about this project at:
Author: Katarina Georgijević
Translation: Jelena Čolović