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A Stradivari Violin Visits the Bluecoat

Last Friday evening the world renowned Norwegian solo violinist Vilde Frang brought her 1709 Stradivari violin to the Bluecoat for some TLC from resident luthier Michael Phoenix at his Violin Studio.


The violin was made in the greatest Italian maker Antoni Stradivari’s golden period and is valued at around £10 million. “It makes me quite humbled to think about it. I am just a small part of this instrument’s life. And it will continue to be played by so many violinists after I am gone,” said Vilde, on BBC Radio Merseyside Linda McDermott Show that night, “If I were to think about how valuable it is, it would completely overwhelm me so I have to distance myself from that – otherwise you become completely paranoid with taking care and how to treat it.”

Michael received the news of Vilde’s surprise visit via the Royal Liverpool Phillharmonic when they telephoned him early Friday afternoon.

He said “I fully expected to see a violin by the great French maker and copyist Jean Baptiste Vuillaume which would have been a joy, but when Vilde opened the case and revealed the ‘Engleman’ Stradivari 1709, that was something special.”

He added “Vilde has only recently taken charge of the instrument which is actually 7 years older than the Bluecoat - Liverpool’s oldest building in the city centre. The craftsmanship of the violin is absolutely superb … and the shape is just so perfectly balanced. It was a real treat to have one of Strad’s finest in the workshop … and of course a thrill to meet the gorgeous and talented Vilde Frang !”.

Mike Phoenix

When the instrument was returned to its owner after some TLC, Vilde was very pleased with the skilled luthier’s work, later joking on radio, “Michael has made it very clean and shiny – I’ll have to wear sunglasses!”

Vilde Frang performed later that week on Sunday 24th at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Michael Phoenix showcases the next Bluecoat concert with the Liverpool String Quartet and guests in the performance space at 7 pm on January 10th 2014. Tickets are on sale now, visit here.


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Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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