Cox Violins Blog

Vermont Symphony Orchestra Violinmaker-in-Residence

I was pleased recently to be invited by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra to be a violinmaker-in-residence for their 2016-17 season. The VSO has been looking for ways to involve their audience more deeply in the music making process. They thought looking at the story of the instruments themselves would reach their audience in new ways.

Douglas Cox at the bench in 2010What is a Violinmaker-in-residence? What do I hope to accomplish?

In this blog I will be documenting the construction of a violin I am building for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Construction begins in early October of 2016, and the violin will be completed in time for performance at the May 6 VSO Masterworks Concert. I will be in residence at the VSO performances in Burlington on Oct 29, Dec 3, March 18 and May 6, to show the progress on the violin and demonstrate the techniques and tools involved at each stage. This blog will provide more detail and insight into the process than is possible in the limited time I will have with the VSO audience in Burlington.

Through this process I hope you will gain an appreciation and insight into the nature of the violin, its limits and potential, the logic of its design, and the tradition in which it is rooted. I believe this behind-the-scenes look at what makes a symphony performance possible will deepen the magic and wonder of the experience of live performance.
The idea of having this special relationship with the VSO is very appealing to me. I identify as a Vermont violinmaker, because I have chosen to live here, making a commitment to using the woods our state is famous for. I think that my temperament, working methods, and business model are consistent with the values inherent in the Vermont way of life: quality, integrity, practicality.

Vermont Symphony Orchestra MasterworksIt is rare for a maker to have such a specific connection with an orchestra. Players in an orchestra will often have a relationship with a particular maker or service person based on proximity, reputation, and tradition. I had such a relationship with many of the players in the Boston Symphony Orchestra when I was working in Boston during the 1970s, but that was not an affiliation with the organization, rather with its players. Technicians will occasionally accompany an orchestra on tour as a service to the players, but with no direct relationship with the audience.

The idea of interacting with the audience to enhance their experience is new territory as far as I know. I do love talking about and demonstrating what I do, but I am more accustomed to do this with players or students. I had a wonderful single-session master class with audience members of the Telegraph String Quartet in San Francisco a couple years ago, so I know from that experience how rewarding this connection can be both for me and for you. I welcome your comments on this blog and my residencies in Burlington, to help me make them of most interest and value to you. If you have questions that arise from this blog, please email me and we will post your questions and my answers.

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