"She's been owned by some prominent musicians, like Albert Sammons, who's an English violinist, and also the radio pioneer, Marconi," says Jonathan Chan, introducing the 1715 Dominicus Montagnana violin, valued at $950,000, that he's been awarded for a second term by the Canada Council for the Arts.
The Canada Council's musical instrument bank contains more than 20 string instruments totalling over $41 million in value and every three years, musicians compete for the chance to borrow them.
Among the musicians currently in possession of these instruments, we recently invited 11 to our Montreal studios to give a demonstration.
Below, Chan plays his own composition, Impulse, an improvisation based on the chords of Bach's Chaconne.
In 2014, Chan completed his master's degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.
"I'm not exactly going down a conventional classical route," he told us via email. "I started my group, Momento, three years ago and we've been arranging popular classics of all genres. Classical studies have given us the ability to be versatile in multiple styles and the violin is such a flexible instrument. We push boundaries constantly, searching for different sounds and ways to convey different genres of music."
He continues, "[Momento] has been performing for Sofar Sounds London crowds for the last couple of months and my 1715 Dominicus Montagnana is being heard by people who wouldn't normally listen to the violin. I aim to continue this trend, giving everything I have to this violin while I still have it."