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NVFANewsletter 4

Believe it or not, it has taken until March to finish wrapping up all the post-convention details. With OCTET 2005 now concluded, newsletter editor Robert J. Spear has been hard at work putting together the special convention issue—and it’s a classic! It's in the mail now but you have to be a member to receive it. If you are not sure about your membership status, contact Sue Taylor at the central office 603 569 7946.

New NVFA Discussion Forums

We now have a discussion forum section on the web site, thanks to the dedicated work of several members and contributors. The following forums are included:

1) General Discussion, a forum in which any general discussion topic relating to the New Violin Family can be used to start a thread. This will also be a good place to ask members about the NVFA, and, if you’re not a member now, to learn about the benefits of joining. Open to members and guests for reading and posting.

2) Acoustics Lab, a forum that will deal with the increasingly relevant world of acoustic research on stringed instruments with a view toward practical application of scientific findings. Although mainly intended for instruments of the Violin Octet, most of the information should be equally applicable to conventional stringed instruments. We hope to have several prominent acousticians, including Carleen Hutchins herself, available periodically to answer questions. You’ll find nothing like this anywhere else! Members; open to guests for reading only.

3) Luthier’s Workbench, a forum for the violin maker that will include both construction and design. Here helpful hints and techniques can be traded back and forth, difficult problems addressed, and just about anything else that relates to the construction of Octet instruments beaten into submission. Members; open to guests for reading only.

4) Varnish Room. No discussion of stringed instruments would be complete without the inclusion of the mysterious and elusive varnish, which past lore always indicated was the secret of Cremonese violin tone. While that might not be the case exactly , there is much to be learned from mutual discussion and exchange on the topics of wood preparation, sealers, grounds, formulas, and methods of application.

5) Player’s Round Table, a forum intended for students and performers of all abilities. Get needed advice from others on topics that range from how to hold an alto or a contrabass, size and weight of bows, where to find strings and cases, music, and to learn where others are available to participate in chamber groups. You are not alone! Members; open to guests for reading only.

6) Composers and Arrangers Room, a forum intended for the exchange of information on who’s writing what and where. We hope this will become the central point on the web to both learn and teach about techniques and methods used successfully to show the special characteristics and qualities of New Family Violins. Members; open to guests for reading only.

7) Members Only, a private forum for, well, Members only.

If have any other suggestions for our new forum, send them to

2006 VSA Convention to include Session on Innovation.

The Violin Society of America announces its 34th Annual Convention to be held from November 6 to 12, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland. A special feature of this convention will be an exhibition to encourage innovation in the design and construction of violin family instruments, bows, and accessories. Session Chair Fan Tao welcomes exhibitions of New Violin Family instruments providing they exhibit innovative developments beyond those found in the original models. Tao notes “Our present definition of innovation has no limits, so we’re not ruling anything out unless we run out of space.” A small fee will be charged, and exhibitors must be VSA members in good standing.

There will be a public exhibition of innovative instruments, bows, and their accessories. Any individual, group, or commercial company can submit an instrument, bow, or related accessory. There will also be a day devoted to presentations on innovation made by invited speakers and playing demonstrations of selected instruments from the public innovation exhibition.

The VSA is an international organization of makers and restorers (amateurs and professional) of instruments and bows, players, collectors, dealers, music lovers, violin buffs, conservatories and libraries. Other activities of the VSA include publishing The Journal of the Violin Society of America and the VSA Papers, scholarships for students of violin and bow making, workshops, a library collection held jointly with Oberlin College, and a newsletter. Membership information is available on the VSA website, <>, or by mail at Violin Society of America, 48 Academy St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA. Fan Tao can be reached at <>.

Guild of American Luthiers Convention to Feature Appearance by Hutchins Consort.

Tim Olsen, founder of the Guild of American Luthiers, has announced the Guild’s 18th Convention/Exhibition, June 21-25, 2006, at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington.

The Convention/Exhibition serves to bring luthiers of all specialties and skill levels from all over North America and the world together to meet and share information and inspiration in a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie; to give luthiers opportunity to show their work to, and receive feedback from, fellow luthiers; and to provide stimulating educational lectures and demonstrations on a wide range of topics of interest to the lutherie community.

This year, the Hutchins Consort will perform for the members in PLU’s state-of-the-art Lagerquist Concert Hall in the Mary Baker Russel Music Center. Joe McNalley will lead a workshop on “The History and Practice of Matched Violin Family Instruments” and New Violin Family petting zoo.

Hundreds of handmade instruments and the builders who created them will be concentrated in the convention exhibition hall. Olsen calls it “ the ultimate lutherie show-and-tell.” There will also be a fabulous selection of lutherie woods, tools, and parts for sale at the tables of the many suppliers who will attend.

Most people, after attending their first Guild convention, are overwhelmed by the openness and friendliness of their fellow members, and by the wealth of information, contacts, and new ideas they’ve experienced. Full registration information is available at the GAL website:

National Music Museum to Welcome AMIS, Galpin Society, and CIMCIM in May

The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) will hold its 35th annual meeting at the National Music Museum (NMM) at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, May 19-23, 2006. This will be a joint meeting with the Galpin Society and the International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections (CIMCIM) of the International Council of Museums. Papers will be presented on topics ranging from medieval drums to the early violin.

Instruments from NMM’s nine galleries will be on display, including a viol by Antonio Stradivari. A variety of performances is planned, including a festival of 18th-century keyboard music from Spain and Portugal. An international gathering of performers will play three of the NMM's greatest rarities--the grand piano by Manuel Antunes, Lisbon, 1767; the Portuguese harpsichord by José Calisto, 1780; and Joseph Kirkman’s magnificent, two-manual harpsichord, built in London in 1798.

Any NVFA members who might be able to attend will also find a full Hutchins Violin Octet among the museum’s holdings. If you wish to do research in the NMM's collections, you must make arrangements in writing, well in advance. Registration materials and detailed information are easily accessible on the NMM's website, <>. Dr. André P. Larson, local arrangements chair and a trustee of the NVFA, can be reached by email at <>.

NVFA Central Office Hours
The office is staffed four days a week; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Our new office manager, Susan Taylor, will be available during these hours to take your calls and answer your questions.

New Violin Family Association, Inc.
42 Taylor Drive
PO Box 987
Wolfeboro, NH
Phone: 603-569-7946

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