The Canada Council for the Arts manages a collection of more than 20 string instruments totalling over $41 million in value. Known as the musical instrument bank, these violins, violas, cellos and bows date from the late 1600s to the early 1900s and bear the names Stradivari, Guarneri and Gagliano, among others.
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, violinist Boson Mo presents his 1757 Carlo Antonio Tononi violin, valued at $300,000 and on loan from the Buchanan family. He plays the second movement, Danse rustique, from Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 5 for solo violin.
Mo is currently working on his doctorate at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, Texas, with Paul Kantor.
"Having the 1757 Tononi has really helped me go above and beyond in my playing," Mo told us. "I feel that this alone has made a difference among presenters and audiences."
On Nov. 14 and 15, he plays Stravinsky's Suite Italienne at Houston's Menil Collection, in conjunction with its current Picasso exhibit. He's got concerts planned in Ottawa and Vancouver in March and June 2017, respectively.
He's about to start a recording project of dance suites for violin. "The album will be centered around Bach's monumental Partita in D Minor (which includes the Chaconne), and will then feature a variety of other dance suites all with ties to Bach," he explained. "It should be a fun project!"
Mo has plans to enter some prominent violin competitions. "The instrument is going to make a huge difference in how well I will be able to perform. All in all, it's a blessing to be playing on — I would almost say working with — such a great instrument, and I couldn't be more thankful!"