250 year old Gagliano violin celebrated at tonight’s ASO River Rhapsodies

drew asoThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will showcase Concertmaster Andrew Irvin’s 250 year old Gagliano violin on October 27 as part of the ASO’s 2015-2016 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music series at 7 PM. The program features Mr. Irvin and his exceptional violin in various ensemble settings in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, performing music spanning the quarter-century life of the instrument.

The program includes:

  • Mozart – Sonata for Violin and Piano
  • Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 122

A cash bar is open at 6 PM and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry their drinks into the hall. The media sponsor for the River Rhapsodies Chamber Series is KUAR/KLRE.

General admission tickets are $23; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org, at the Clinton Presidential Center box office beginning 60 minutes prior to the concert, or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100

“Great instruments require skilled musician hands to come alive — yet in these hands, they become personified beings that dwell in a realm unshackled from the bonds of time — and in so doing, connect musicians across centuries through the uniquely profound relationship that musicians have with their instruments.  Mr. Irvin’s violin is a direct connection to musical history.  Its previous masters’ preferences are infused in is tone, their gaffes inscribed upon its body, and its surface is a story of centuries of perspiration and effort in service to art. Musicians are merely the caretakers, or curators, of these instruments for a short human lifespan, and this program is a celebration of not only an instrument’s anniversary, but of all the musicians since 1765 who have made it possible.”  Philip Mann, music director

About the violin

The violin was made by Nicolo Gagliano in approximately 1765 (Gagliano marked his violins by decade only, so the exact date is unknown) in Naples, Italy. Headed by Alessandro Gagliano, the Neapolitan school of violin makers is considered to be among the pinnacles of high quality musical artisanship. Alessandro’s son, Nicolo, is possibly the greatest of the Gagliano luthiers. His legacy began with his four sons employed in his workshop and lasted well into the 20th Century, ending when the firm of Vincenzo Gagliano and Sons closed in 1925.

Before 1820 violins had shorter necks set up for gut strings, which have lower tension than modern steel strings. Composers like Beethoven demanded higher pitches and more sound, which drove changes to violin constructions. Violins were refitted with a longer neck for an increased range and the body was reinforced to handle the increased tension of more resonant steel strings.

Michael Purcell of Philadelphia maintains the violin, and Mr. Irvin returns to his shop twice a year for maintenance.