Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Sun Rises

My birthday present arrived today. The label inside says "From the workshop of Xuechang Sun, Model VN-100" and it's a nice mellow colour that reminds me of a tasty amber ale. In addition to playing it happily today, I took photos of it because that's what I do: artsy in the case and the back of the body, which shows the colour more accurately. It plays like a dream, making me feel like a better player almost immediately. Of course I really wanted to like it and I may be deluding myself, but it seems to sound a lot nicer than my rental.

When people go looking for something handmade of excellent quality, they don't usually think "China!" In the world of violins, instruments made in Europe are king, and you pay for more for that distinction. Better yet, old European instruments, which you pay even more for. I was pretty clueless when I started looking, and needed someone to help. Rhiannon at Fiddleheads helped me figure out what I wanted, needed and could afford...which turned out to be a new (not old) Chinese (not European) violin.

I also got a second opinion from a fascinating and generous author, luthier and violin dealer in Winnipeg, John Weier. He's dealt with Sun violins before and agreed that they were great value for the money. Not that I didn't trust Rhiannon, but it was nice to have her advice supported. She had steered me away from similar-priced European violins (that she also sells), saying that the Sun model offered better bang for the buck and would likely suit me better. Her site also had info about another Chinese craftsman who has won big awards in the U.S. and was interviewed by Time magazine.

The only downside of the choice was that it came during Chinese New Year, which slowed things down considerably. I exercised patience and it appears to have been worth the wait (what would the alternative have been?). Tonight while I was playing it, I noticed that it resonates beautifully when I'm in playing in tune -- like it is trying to help me with my intonation. I was able to play much quieter and smoother, or very loud and bright with small changes in bow pressure. Anyway, very exciting and I'm looking forward to getting to know this little beauty.



Elizabeth said...

Wow! She's a real beauty!

Tannis said...

I agree, she's really lovely. I just hope I don't have to compete. It even sound richer, to my totally untrained ear.

Jeremy said...

She, eh? It is difficult to imagine it as a "he" -- must be those sensuous curves, perfect balance and angelic tenor voice. I'm not big on naming inanimate objects, but something this fine almost demands it. Pete or Dave?

Dillen said...

Are you still enjoying this violin, six months later? I'm browsing Rhiannon's site right now, and am curious.


Jeremy said...

Hey Alisha, sorry I didn't get back to you on this -- your comment got stuck in moderation limbo and I just got it today.

I love the violin -- my only problem with it is that I've been fixated on my viola and don't get to play it enough. My experience with Rhiannon was excellent, and the instrument is beautiful. It sounds better now than when I bought it...although it may be that my playing has just improved.