The luthier delivered a viola this week, his first to be played in our state orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony orchestra, or TSO, as it is affectionately known. Three of his bows belong to TSO players, but this is the first instrument. It's a big step and a proud moment.
Everything in the luthier and bow making business takes a long, long time. There is a myriad of minute handcrafted steps in every lengthy process. A violin takes 3 or 4 months to be planed, shaped, constructed, carved and varnished. Many of the materials are gathered from all corners of the planet like aged tone wood from Germany. And for bows he uses Mongolian horse hair, silver, pearl, ebony and pernambuco, the endangered Brazilian rainforest wood that can now only be reclaimed from buildings and packing crates. Animal glue, oil varnish, and mother of pearl - the elements are alchemical and exotic.
The luthier has spent the last 12 years carving out, little by little, not only beautiful, resonant instruments and now bows, but also handcrafting a reputation for excellence, if only on our little island, as yet.
I can't wait to drink in the sight and sound of this viola (and its talented and discerning owner) in action on stage with the TSO. And to see the luthier acknowledging,in that moment, all the work he has done and to, perhaps, consider the possibilities of all the musicians and stages that his instruments and bows are yet to grace all over the world.
Remind me to pack some hankies.