Work Hard, Play Hard!

Pic 1. Piazza della Pace. Looking towards the Duomo/Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta.

Who coined that phrase? No idea, but sometimes it’s important to acknowledge that a break is deserved, a reward for the toil.

So this month, with excitement mounting, I ventured out to foreign lands…….the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the mecca for all things violin, the holy grail……..CREMONA!!!

Accompanied by two intrepid companions, Susie Cochrane and Hannah Humphreys, both players, musicians, amazing women, we headed to Stradivari’s place of birth and the town, in Italy, where the craft of violin making was born.

Pic 2. Cremona – Strad, Hannah, Susie, Me!

The Duomo (12th century) took our breath away. The marble flagstone floors worn by hundreds of years of foot fall, including the greatest Cremonese makers of all time Andrea Amati (c1505 -1577), Andrea Guarneri (1623-1698), Antonio Stradivari (c1644-1737) and Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesu’ (1698-1744). They were there!

Pic 3. The Duomo/Cattedrale

The ‘Museo del Violino’ took up a day of our time and I could have quite happily pitched a tent in the darkened room referred to as ‘The Treasure Box’, and spent a week analysing the collection. Their crowning glory is the 1715 ’Il Cremonese’ violin by Stradivari. Wow.

Pic 4. ‘Il Cremonese’ 1715 Violin

Hundreds of makers are still working diligently, at the bench, in Cremona. Makers who are happy to be disturbed have ground floor workshops where you can peek in through the window. They may beckon you in with a friendly wave, in need of a chat (violin making can be a solitary affair), proudly show you their work and reflect on how great Cremonese making was, and is.

Pic 5. Gaspar Borchardt invited us in!

For me, the simplest pleasure came from walking in ‘their’ (Amati, Strad, Guarneri) footsteps, breathing in ‘their’ Cremonese air, and feeling ‘their’ greatness. On the surface, a typical, ordinary north Italian town, delve deep and discover it bears the heaviest of historical weights.

On reflection it’s all a little overwhelming, which bodes well for a return visit! With such great company, good food, local wine, and a sense that we were stuck in time, I already feel drawn.

Concerts Galore!

Please click on the links to see what’s happening locally.

  • Sadly I missed the second ever ‘Borders Chamber Orchestra’ concert so please check out their 3rd concert at the end of March. Geoffrey Emerson, who attended, has been in touch to say it was absolutely great!   
  • ‘Alnwick Music Society’ has a lovely lunchtime concert coming up on Friday 1st March, at Alnwick Play House.  
  • Rachel Sutherland of the ‘Berwick Baroque Players’ has been in touch and invites you to their next concert on 16/3/24 11.30am, Berwick Parish Church. Free!
  • ‘Wooler Arts’ has an amazing Easter Concert coming up with the ‘Royal Northern Sinfonia’ on the 31st March, St Mary’s Church Wooler, 3pm   
  • New Tyneside Orchestra’s next big concert is coming up on 23rd March 19.30pm at Kings Hall, Newcastle University. Interesting programme!

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