December 2, 2017 was a milestone. For her Senior Recital and in satisfaction of her Violin Performance degree with a Performer’s Certificate, at the Eastman School of Music, my daughter, Willa Finck, selected and performed a program of demanding modern works. She began with a work for solo violin, “Afternoon Elegie,” composed in the Spring of 2015 by her sister Ledah Finck. This was followed by the Debussy Violin Sonata, Ysaÿe Violin Sonata No. 2, and the Prokofiev Violin Sonata No.1 in F Minor. The piano accompanist was Anna Gourfinkel. Willa performed on a violin I recently completed that was inspired by a 1649 Nicola Amati instrument.
This is a recently completed 15-5/8″ body length (40.0 cm) viola with a 14-1/2″ string length (36.9 cm). It’s my model inspired by the outline of a 1560 Andrea Amati viola. I spent a good session with a professional violist optimizing the setup on this instrument — it speaks easily and is remarkably even across the strings. It has a large, woody voice, with a terrific C-string (and plenty of resistance) for a smaller instrument. This instrument is an excellent choice for a smaller violist or an orchestral musician who just wants a more manageable instrument for those long gigs! Available for audition.
The last guitar I built was recently made for a terrific young man and musician who is off pursuing a masters degree in classical guitar performance at Yale. My previous classicals have been quite traditional. This one was something new for me, incorporating many elements found in contemporary classical guitars: elevated neck, soundport, carbon-fiber neck reinforcement and ultra-stiff laminated sides. That guitar was so successful I built another like it. I again used Englemann spruce for the top (thanks to my friend Link for choosing some great wood!), but I changed the back and sides to Macassar ebony. Success — a powerful, attractive guitar appropriate for the performer or advanced student.
A group of experienced guitarists had a chance to review it recently (including a former concert artist and GFA prize winner). Some of the comments:
“All of the players…were immediately impressed not only by the beauty of the instrument, but by the very features which you described before sending it. It is soooo loud! It has a clear, brilliant and balanced sound that separates voices wonderfully.””
…loved the port,… they could hear detail in the tone that they’ve never been able to hear on other guitars.”
“…never heard a guitar that sustains individual notes like #28”
The Brevard Music Festival presents world class music throughout the summer and trains classical musicians from high school age on up to young professionals. I’ll be set up in the music library at the Brevard Music Center on July 5th and 6th from 9AM to 5 PM providing an opportunity for violinists and violists to see and hear several of my instruments.
I will also be available for sound adjustment consultations or simply to trouble shoot problems you may be experiencing with your instrument (violins/violas). Please come visit and have a look. I would enjoy getting to know you.
After five years of exclusively making violins and violas it took a request from a fine young guitarist to coax me out of guitar building retirement, and I am glad he did — it was an invigorating project. In contrast to my previous work, which was quite traditional, this guitar features several modern innovations: elevated fingerboard, dual carbon fiber rod reinforced neck, a sound port and laminated sides. I also redesigned the neck block for a light and very stiff connection of the neck to the body, while simultaneously allowing the upper bout of the guitar more freedom to resonate.
Win one for modernism. I am pleased with the tonal presence of this instrument: crystalline clarity, singing trebles, distinct, lush basses, and plenty of volume. And it appears this guitar will be accompanying its new owner to the Yale School of Music graduate program in guitar performance.
A recently completed violin. Inspiration came from the outlines from a 1649 Nicolo Amati instrument. I enlarged the body and altered the arching from the original to create a violin with a bigger tonal presence better suited to the requirements of modern players. Contrary to mythology, a very good violin can sound very good right from the start. This one found a home six days after it was strung for the first time.