I keep in close contact with the college where I studied, Newark School of Violin Making, and in my role as chair of the RAB Trust www.rabtrust.org I host students for work experience and do whatever I can to keep in touch and help.
I was delighted to hear last year about a fantastic inititative by one of the students, Marios Pavlou. He comes from Cyprus and has seen at first hand the suffering of the Syrian refugees who land on his home island. Instead of saying that this is the responsibility of government, he thought about what he could do to help. So he came up with the idea that four teams of students would each make a violin in a week, then varnish and set up the instruments. This would be done loosely as a competition with the violins judged on craftsmanship and tone. The finished instrument would be sold and the money raised donated to Anera, a charity which supports training schemes in the refugee camps. All the materials for the violins was generously donated by the relevant suppliers. I was able to give the first royalty payment from the reprint of my book ‘Violin Varnish: notes and articles from the workshop of Koen Padding’.
On Saturday 26 January I had the privelege of attending the presentation ceremony for this four violins. I’d heard a lot about what went into making them from the students I know who were involved, and was excited to see them finished. They had all done a great job, characterful instruments which all sounded excellent; rich and powerful. We were really lucky that Jennifer Pike came to play them and to do the tonal judging. The prizewinning violin, made appropriately by Marios’ team, will be auctioned by Tarisio, and the other three violins are available for private sale.
Full information about the competition is on the HOPE website, and if anyone is interested in trying one of these lovely violins, Marios can be contacted through the website.