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Christopher Germain
  • Christopher Germain

CHRISTOPHER GERMAIN makes award-winning violins, violas and cellos from his studio in Philadelphia. Mr. Germain attended the Chicago School of Violin Making, where he was a student of Tschu-Ho Lee. After graduating in 1985, he went on to work for the Chicago firms, Kenneth Warren and Son and Bein & Fushi, Inc., before he opened his own studio in 1991. In 1995, Christopher Germain was invited by legendary restorer Vahakn Nigogosian to assist in teaching at the Violin Society of America’s Stringed Instrument Restoration Workshop at Oberlin College in Ohio. He eventually became Director of the Restoration Workshop and currently directs the VSA/Oberlin Stringed Instrument Maker’s Workshop.

Mr. Germain is a member and past President of The American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers, Inc. and as President, conceived and produced, “The American Violin”, an historic celebration of the art and craft of violin making in America, which took place in 2006 at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Mr. Germain has served on the Governing Board of the Violin Society of America and is also a member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d’Art. He’s lectured and demonstrated his craft at venues around the world, including The Central Conservatory of Beijing, The Australian Violinmaker’s Association, The Violin Society of America and many more. Mr. Germain has served on the juries of a number of international violin making competitons, including at the 12th International Triennial Competition of Stringed Instrument Making (2009) in Cremona, Italy.

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Rodney Mohr
  • Rodney Mohr

Rodney is a graduate of the Kenneth Warren & Son School of Violin Making (now known as the Chicago School of Violin Making). He has been active in bow making for over 25 years and is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers where he earned the degree of Master of Bow Making. He has produced more than 800 bows and has restored a countless number of fine bows.

As Co-Director of the VSA Oberlin Bow Restoration Workshop, Rodney has taught many students the fine art of repair and restoration. He has been a guest instructor at the North Bennett Street School in Boston and given demonstrations at the Chicago School of Violin Making.

Rodney has won 20 awards in international competitions. After winning his third gold medal with the Violin society of America, he is no longer eligible to compete and has earned the title of Hors’ Concours. He was awarded his Hors' Concours Certificate at the 19th Violin Society Competition and Convention in Cleveland, OH on November 11, 2010. Rodney served as a bow workmanship judge for the VSA International Competition in Portland, Oregon in 2008.

Rodney was the president of the Violin Society of America and is past president of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers.
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Raymond Schryer
  • Raymond Schryer

Raymond Schryer ~ Violin Maker

Memberships
2004 Member of the Amiata Violin Makers Summit - Italy
1997-2012 Member of Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d’Art
1997-2013 Member of The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers

Awards
2010 Violin Society of America Competition - Cleveland, Ohio
Silver Medal for Violin
2009 XII Triennale Internazionale - Cremona, Italy
Silver Medal for Violin
2008 Violin Society of America Competition – Portland, Oregon
Workmanship Award for Violin
2006 Violin Society of America Competition – Baltimore, Maryland
Silver Medal for Violin & Silver Medal for Viola
2004 Violin Society of America Competition - Portland, Oregon
Workmanship Award for Violin
2003 XI Triennale Internazionale - Cremona, Italy
Gold Medal for Cello
2002 Violin Society of America Competition - Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
Gold Medal for Cello, Silver Medal for Viola & Silver Medal for Quartet
1998 Violin Society of America Competition - Salt Lake City, Utah
Silver Medal for Violin
1996 Violin Society of America Competition - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Workmanship Award for Violin & Workmanship Award for Cello
1994 Tchaikovsky Violin Making Competition - Moscow, Russia
Bronze Medal for Cello

International Juries
2012 Violin Society of America Competition - Cleveland, USA
2010 International Violin Making Competition - Mittenwald, Germany
2008 International Violin Making Triennial Competition - Queretaro, Mexico
2008 Jeunesses Musicales Canada – Montreal, Quebec
2007 Violino Arvenzis Competition - Dolny Kubin, Slovakia
2008 Trienal International de Lauderia Queretaro, Mexico
2004 Venceslav Metelka Festival and Competition - Nachod, Czech Republic

Musical Awards
1992 Winner - Canadian Open Fiddle Championship - Shelburne, Ontario
1973 - 1992 Numerous competition wins in Canada and the United States

Workshops
2010 Violin Setup Course - Victoria, BC - Teacher
2009 Violin Design- Escuela de Lauderia, Queretaro, Mexico - Teacher
2009 Australasian Violin Maker's Conference - Canberra, Australia - Presenter
2008 Violin Varnish Workshop - Parma, Italy – Teacher
1997-2012 Participant / Staff of the Oberlin Summer Violin Making Workshop - Ohio

Publications
2012 The Strad November Issue - "Golden Age of US Making"
2011 The Strad June issue - Trade Secrets "Neck and Heel Shaping"
2007 The Strad May Issue - Trade Secrets “Making Arching Templates”
2005 The Strad October Issue - Trade Secrets “Maple Edging”
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William Robert Scott
  • William Robert Scott

William (Bill) Scott is a violin maker working in the Minneapolis, Minnesota.

His instruments are played around the globe. He earned Hors Concours in 2006 with his 3rd Gold Medal for viola at the VSA International Violinmaking Competition.

In addition to these awards, he has won numerous other medals and certificates for violin, viola and cello. He serves on the board of The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, Inc. and plays violin in the Ayana String Quartet and Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis.

Mr. Scott’s interest in violin-making began in 1970 when he met Martin Bielke, a well-known bow-maker and repairman in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Attending his first VSA (Violin Society of America) Competition in 1980 at Hofstra University, New York, Bill met Mr. Hans Weisshaar. In 1984 Bill began his apprenticeship at the shop of Hans Weisshaar, Inc. in Los Angeles. In recent years, Mr. Scott has contributed on a regular basis to Strad Magazine, VSA Conventions with presentations and Forum discussions and also as a workmanship judge.

Awards

2006
Viola--VSA Gold Medal, Violin--VSA Silver Medal for Workmanship, Cello--Certificate for Worskmanship

String Quartet--Certificate for Workmanship and Tone Hors Concours--Violin Society of America, meaning "outside the competition", no longer allowed to compete in these events. Gold Medals won at three different events are required.

Alumni Achievement Award, St. Olaf College: Class of 1975

1992-2004
2 Gold Medals at VSA Competitions
5 Silver Medals for tone and workmanship

1982-2002
Numerous Certificates for tone and workmanship at VSA Competitions
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Alexander Svycarsky
  • Alexander Svycarsky

born on August 28th, 1973 in Mladá Boleslav.

After finishing school, he attended the violinmaker school in Luby by Cheb (1988 - 1991).

He gained his first professional experience from his distant relative Josef Vávra, of the famous violinmaker family. A year later he accepted the internship offer of Vladimír and Tomáš Pilař, staying with them from 1993 to 1994. At their shop he built an instrument which won the top prize in the Prague Competition.
He regularly consulted with Přemysl Špidlen between 1998 and 1999.

In 1999 he became a member of the Association of Czech Violinmakers (Kruh umělců houslařů). In the same year he left for London where he worked under Florian Leonhard, one of the most famous European restorers. In his shop Alexander Švýcarský restored valuable Italian instruments, and made copies of them as well.

Since his return in 2001 he works in his own Prague shop. His own singular style is influenced by the mentality of and admiration for the old Italian masters. His work is appreciated by many leading artists, for example the outstanding violinist Josef Suk, the violist Petr Verner of the " Vlach Quartet," the cellist Pavel Verner of the "Apollon Quartet", the violist Vladimír Kroupa of the "Epoque Quartet" and many others.

Alexander Švýcarský has won prizes of Best Workmanship (2006) and Best Varnish (2001) in the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Making Competition in Poznan, Poland. Besides, he ranked fourth at the 12th International Triennial Competition of Stringed Instrument Making (2009) in Cremona, Italy.
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Jacob Mitas
  • Jacob Mitas

Jacob Mitas is a skilled bow maker and restorer of fine violins and bows. He was trained in bow making by the esteemed maker Michael Yeats and in violin restoration by Christophe Landon and Pierre Moisy. With a decade experience working in fine violins shops, in New York City at Rare Violins of New York and in Philadelphia at Fred Oster Fine Violins, Jacob has had the privilege of studying and working with some of the world's most rare and valuable violins and bows. His clients have included world renowned soloists, members of the most prestigious orchestras, as well as conservatory students and folk violinists.

Jacob has played violin since childhood, studied viola at Bard College, and continues to play both classical and folk genres with bands. His experience as a musician, combined with his sound technical experience as a luthier, helps him to understand the needs of individual string players and assist them in acquiring the particular tone and feel they need from their instrument and bow.

In addition to violin and bow work, Jacob enjoys drawing, bicycling, studying Mandarin Chinese and is currently building a forest cabin in Oregon's Columbia Gorge.
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George Blum
  • George Blum

George Blum has been making and repairing/restoring instruments in Tucson Arizona since graduating from the Violin Making School of America in 1993 where he studied under Peter Paul Prier. He has also attended the violin making workshop at Oberlin College a number of times under the direction of both Chris Germain and Vahakn Nigogosian.

In addition to working on instruments, George has played the violin professionally in the Tucson Symphony since 1986. Mr. Blum has also performed with the Madison Symphony and the American Sinfonietta and has played in festivals throughout the United States including the Bellingham Festival of Music, Bear Lake Music Festival, the Wintergreen Music Festival, Telluride Chamber Music Festival and at the ILAMS lunchtime concert series in London.
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Silvio Levaggi
  • Silvio Levaggi

I trained at the Cremona International Violinmaking School under the tuition of Masters V. Bissolotti and W. Zambelli, obtaining my diploma in 1984.

From 1994 to 2000, as a result of a collaboration with the workshop Carlson-Cacciatori-Neumann, I was able to expand my knowledge about restoration and conservation techniques for stringed instruments.

From 2000 I regularly take part at the Oberlin Violinmaking Workshop where I can work in close contact with some of the best American and European luthiers in a continuous and rich exchange of opinions and experiences.

In my workshop I devote all my time to the making of violins, violas and cellos of the finest quality, inspired by the classical Italian schools of violinmaking.

Member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d’Art
Member of the Violin Society of America

Prizes:
4 Gold Medals: Cremona 2009, Parigi 2004, Manchester 2004, Mittenwald 2001;
4 Silver Medals: VSA 2010 e 2002;
2 Bronze Medals: Mittenwald 2005, Cremona 2003;
18 Certificates of Merit or Special Prize: from 1998 to 2010.
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Jesse Berndt
  • Jesse Berndt

Jesse Berndt is a bowmaker from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Whether making or rehairing, his work can be found in the hands of performers of the highest caliber. Jesse maintains a diverse list of clients ranging from professional players and soloists to beginning students, specializing in consistent, regular, sustainable work for rehair and maintenance of the bow.

After finishing a music degree, Jesse started violin work in 2001. First learning basic violin repair with a retired violinmaker, he found the craft a meaningful combination of woodwork and music. In 2004 he added metalwork when he got started in bowmaking with Lynn Hannings' summer courses in new Hampshire, and since then has focused on bows, both repair/maintenance and making. In 2009 he took part in the Oberlin bow restoration workshop, learning valuable repair principles and techniques. A significant part of his training since then has been regular participation in the Oberlin bowmaking workshop yearly from 2010, keeping up and helping to develop high standards of making and repair. His work has taken him across the US, as well as to Brussels, Paris, and Jamaica.

In his spare time, Jesse has been restoring his 1886 home in Minneapolis and volunteering with some local organizations.
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Kevin Kelly
  • Kevin Kelly

A violinist for more than forty years, Kevin is a 1992 graduate of the North Bennet Street School in Boston, with a degree in Violin Making and Repair. After graduation he worked at Roland Feller Violin and Bow Makers in San Francisco, and Reuning and Son Violins in Boston.

From 1998 to 2001 he was the head of the Department of Violin Making and Repair at the North Bennet Street School.

Since 2002 he has run his own studio in Boston, making new instruments, performing repairs and restorations of historic instruments and maintaining and adjusting instruments. His clients include many professional musicians, students, teachers, and institutions including the Department of Musical Instruments at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Kevin has an interest in investigating the original system of design of the violin family, and has published articles on the subject in the Strad Magazine and presented his research at the Violin Society of America's annual meetings and the Oberlin Violin Makers' Workshop.

He is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, and a consultant for the Fine Musical Instrument Division of Skinner Auctioneers. He is an advisor to the Violin Making program at the North Bennet Street School, and was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award from North Bennet Street School in 2015.

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Thomas Oliver Croen
  • Thomas Oliver Croen

Thomas Oliver Croen:

I came to violin making with a long history of two merging interests;
woodworking and music. With the good fortune of a well timed suggestion
I left for Salt Lake City to enroll in violin making school in 1977. It is hard to believe I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years because I still get excited carving, shaping arches and corners, making scrolls, and bringing to life a new instrument. I work in a classical style, but have long since stopped directly copying and allowing myself to have my own style of work.

I have an active interest in understanding instrument acoustics. This has led to me to write several publications on the subject and others pertaining to the craft of violin making and repair. I live and work in Oakland, California as a full time maker and restorer and on a daily basis, I try to apply what I have learned to instruments that come in for repairs, and strive to help them perform better for players. I often have large restoration projects in the workshop and I love the problem solving this kind of work demands.

It was exciting for me to compete in the VSA competitions in 1984 and 1986, when I won 3 gold medals. Though I can no longer compete as a "Hors Concours" maker, I find it easy to stay challenged and inspired. I’ve been a workmanship judge at two VSA competitions, and served two terms on the VSA board. I like being involved in the broader instrument community and try to contribute where I can. I’m also a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and served on their board of directors for two terms. The friendships formed, have led to many working trips and conferences across the world that keep me interested and happy to be a violin maker.
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Gregory (Greg) Sapp
  • Gregory (Greg) Sapp

Gregory (Greg) Sapp provides high level restoration and repair services to musicians and shops all around the United States out of his shops in Illinois. Greg graduated from the Kenneth Warren & Son School of Violin Making (now the Chicago School of Violin Making) in 1981, working under the guidance of Master Tschu Ho Lee. While in school Master Lee commissioned two violas and one cello from Greg and introduced him to repair and restoration. After graduation, Greg worked at Kenneth Warren & Son in Chicago, a premier shop in the Midwest, where he worked under the guidance of Zenon Petesh. This opportunity brought many challenging projects and provided Greg with many fine instruments of historical importance to work on. In 1986, he became Head Repairman at Kenneth Warren & Son and continued in that capacity through April of 1994.

In 1994, Greg opened a repair studio in his home, providing repair and restoration service for almost 22 shops from a half-dozen states. While his main focus was restoration and repair, he also made 40 instruments in those years.

Early in 2003 Greg opened a part-time repair studio in downtown Chicago, while continuing to provide services out of his home. Then in 2006, with the help of his wife, Mary Ellen (Mel), he opened a full service retail shop in Montgomery, IL and in 2013 a satellite retail shop was opened in Wheaton, IL.

Greg has been a regular contributor to the Oberlin Restoration Workshops. He provides master classes on advanced restoration techniques; providing materials and fixtures that he creates that assist him with complex repairs.

Greg splits his time between the three shops, which allows him to continue to work on fine instruments for musicians and shops around the country and also provide a much needed service to local musicians.
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Kevin McElroy
  • Kevin McElroy

Kevin McElroy has owned and operated his own violin shop in Freeport , Maine for over twenty years. He was a student of Hans Nebel at The University of New Hampshire summer violin programs for several years. He work for Bourgeois Guitars and restored antique acoustic fretted instruments there. Also Kevin has worked in the shop of Jonathan Cooper in Portland Maine doing repair, restoration and new making. He attends the Oberlin Summer Restoration furthering his training and exchanging ideas from his many friends and colleagues in the trade. He recently sold his business , Frost Gully Violins and continues to work as a restorer and dealer in fine violins at his shop in Freeport, Maine.
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Jon Crumrine
  • Jon Crumrine

Jon Crumrine began playing violin at age 4. He holds a degree in viola performance from the University of Michigan. While a student and later as an orchestral musician, Jon enjoyed spending time in violin shops learning more about instruments and bows. This curiosity led him to a sales position with Shar Products in Ann Arbor.
In 1992, Jon began working on bows with Jerry Pasewicz in Ann Arbor. He then attended the Violin Craftsmanship Institute at the University of New Hampshire where he studied with Lynn Hannings and George Rubino. This training led him to a position at Williams Gengakki Violins in Atlanta, and while there he commenced a series of visits to Munich, Germany, to study with Bogenmachermeister Markus Wörz. Jon has also spent numerous summers participating in the Oberlin College Bow Makers Workshop where he worked with French master, Jean Grunberger, and other top American bow makers.
In 2000, Jon moved to the Boston area to become the head of the bow department at Reuning & Son Violins and then worked as the Sales Manager at Johnson String Instrument. In May 2011, Jon joined Carriage House Violins where he is available for bow rehairing, repair, and restoration.
Jon seeks out the finest materials available, paying particular attention to the quality, beauty, and age of the pernambuco wood he prefers. He blends elements of the classic French aesthetic with original ideas to emphasize sound and playability.
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