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mommag

Interesting article on getting a violin loaned

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As I was searching for some info on how to get a nice violin loaned

to a aspiring musician, I came across this article.  I was

shocked and it is almost scary to know the politics behind the

scene.  How are those budding young musicians

going to be able  to afford to fly wherever the sponsor

requests on their own expense?  What is your take on this?

 

 http://www.fritz-reuter.com/articles/chicagotribune/young_musicians_pay_a_heavy_pric.htm.

 

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This sort of problem has been going on for generations, though it's getting much worse now that we have a global economy with built-in instabilities. Once fine Cremona violins were seen as viable repositories of wealth, the prices more or less went up by an order of magnitude.

On the other hand, sitting in a vault for 50 years might not be a bad thing for a fine fiddle; it will get a rest, and be spared the ravages of professional use and travel for a while.

Then there's the school that believes modern makers are building excellent instruments, and blind testing demonstrates the difficulties involved in separating the sheep from the goats (with apologies to David's sheep; certainly she is beyond compare).

It seems reasonable to expect someone being given the loan of a multimillion dollar instrument to assume some fiscal responsibility for its upkeep, and for the aspiring borrower to travel to the instrument on his own dime. Of course, moderation in all things is the ideal. Of course, between the Ideal and the Real falls the Shadow.

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I've met Soovin Kim (friend of a friend)... he's very gracious and has nothing but praise for the being able play the instrument he does. Keep in mind that he's already flying around the country for performances so a side trip here or there is not going to make a huge impact in his schedule. Also keep in mind that mixing with prominent patrons is a pretty regular thing even for established professionals. It can be a lot of fun, actually -- you meet some wonderful people that way, and if you want to be practical about it, it's also an excellent networking opportunity. These sort of things can sometimes open doors for future (paid) engagements.

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I would take anything Frizt Reuter has to say with a rather large grain of salt. It might also be worth noting that he has something of a personal vendetta against that "unnamed Chicago violin dealer".

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UNNAMED???

It seems to me that "The Stradivari Society" put together by Bein and Fushi has been well known and fairly well publicized since its inception.

It serves as a real growth investment for the wealthy members of the syndicate who are pretty well assured of the growth of their capital, insured against loss, and free from maintenance expenses. There may also be some tex-exempt (charity) advantages, too (but I don't know about that.)

The "students" acquire instruments that would otherwise require interest-only monthly-payments of $10,000 and above to own someday in the far future - a real burden early in a career. It seems to me the trade-off can be very favorable for them, since these instruments would otherwise be out of their financial reach during the first one or two decades of even very successful solo careers.

The biggest winners, howerver (I think) are the administrators of the syndicate (the "un-named Chicago firm" [named above]) who get to participate in these activities for the usual dealer commissions and other perks.

A lot of winners all around, if you think about it, all based on the continuously inflating prices of ancient Italian instruments.

Andy

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I finally understand what this is all about (Instrument Loan program). It is a unique win-win-win situation and I believe one partner cannot "controll" other two partners as in Game Theory. The partnership works if everyone is qualified.and everybody will win. Amazing! Ingenious!.

They should get a Nobel prize in economics. No kidding.

link

Equally interesting in there is an old story that a guy found a viola on sidewalk.(read it)

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I guess by the time someone is offered a loan of strad or gesu violin, his/her career is already in good start. The article above may be one sided opinion of the author, but do those musicians who benefited from the society's instrument loan feel abligated to buy an instument from (unnamed dealer) after the loan ends? if they say "No, I'll buy from someone else." Does it cause some degree of dent in the relationship with the Society since the dealer is the board member?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
mommag

The article above may be one sided opinion of the author, but do those musicians who benefited from the society's instrument loan feel abligated to buy an instument from (unnamed dealer) after the loan ends?

If you don't want to buy an instrument, just say no. Although realistically, if you're looking for a fine instrument, B&F is a logical place to start.

On the plus side, having the Society play "matchmaker" has also helped several young musicians to eventually purchase the instruments they were loaned. The artists who've purchased their instruments seem plenty happy with the arrangement.

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(Add something to previous post, if I may) If someone, like the world class violinist in

the loan program, he or she is more likely to buy the Stad. A relationship has been buillt

after a long time with the Society,with the instrument, and he also has had money by then.

If he buys a cheaper instrument he is taking another chance. Think about how the public would think of him?

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I'd also add that it's not unusual for the recipient of a loaned instrument to cover insurance and maintenance costs. They're the ones adding wear and tear to the instrument (the donor certainly doesn't benefit from that), so it seems only fair to cover the expenses. And generally speaking, people tend to be more careful with things when they have a financial interest in them.

Likewise, it's pretty typical for donors to put restrictions on where instruments may be taken for maintenance or repair. Few owners would be willing to hand over a $5 million violin and say, "here, take it anywhere for work." From the standpoint of the recipient, I wouldn't want the liability either -- what if you take it to someone you chose and the donor isn't happy with the results? That could get very ugly, very fast. This way the Society carries the liability. Plus, there's a distinct advantage to taking an instrument to a luthier who's already familiar with the violin and its setup. I think John Becker at B&F takes care of the Society instruments, and I can tell you from experience that he keeps meticulous notes and measurements on all client instruments that goes through his hands. My husband once took a violin to him for adjustment after a gap of close to ten years, and John still had a file for that violin and extensive notes on what setups he'd tried and what worked best. That sort of attention saves a lot of time and experimentation.

Of course, if other dealers are genuinely concerned about the Society taking advantage of young artists, they could always step up and start instrument loan programs of their own.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Erika

I'd also add that it's not unusual for the recipient of a loaned instrument to cover insurance and maintenance costs.

Those expenses can be substantial.

Old fiddles may require more maintenance than a newer instrument. I don't know what normal maintenance expenses might be. Maybe a couple thousand US dollars a year. Erika, can you offer an estimate?

Insurance rates on fine violins run 0.3% to 0.5% a year, I believe. So a 3 million dollar Stradivari's insurance would run about $9,000 to $15,000 a year.

For a couple of years of insurance premiums on a $3 million Strad, you could buy yourself a very fine contemporary violin, and you would own the instrument outright.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
skiingfiddler

Old fiddles may require more maintenance than a newer instrument. I don't know what normal maintenance expenses might be. Maybe a couple thousand US dollars a year. Erika, can you offer an estimate?


Assuming the Society sets them up in good condition in the first place (before the instruments are loaned out), it wouldn't be that much. We'll go for several years where nothing much needs to be done, then have a bigger year where a fingerboard needs re-planed or the neck pulled or something. It's tax-deductible so it tends to work in our favor.

I would bet that quite a few recipients in the program already own fine contemporary violins (they had to study all those years on something...), but still choose to participate.

Insurance is a lot, yes, but consider the recipients. They have active enough careers to support a certain amount of expenses. Also, the insurance carried by investors/collectors most likely doesn't cover professional use -- usually you have to get a separate policy to cover that. I don't know how you could convince a patron to donate the use of a valuable instrument, risk depreciation, pay more for insurance, and pay for resulting wear and tear. That's a lot to ask.

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I don't see anyone else lending instruments of that quality at ANY cost. Why bash the ONE company that has thought to put together such a program for musicians?

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I guess for the young rising violinist, it is a dream come true to be able to play on such a wonderful historical instrument. They may even have an evaluation for the violinist's financial capability to cover the insurance and neccessary maintenance fee, no? On another note, does Amati society have instrument loan program as well? I thoght I read somewhere that a teenage violinist was loaned a french violin from them.

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++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

quote:


Originally posted by:
mommag

I guess for the young rising violinist, it is a dream come true to be able to play on such a wonderful historical instrument. They may even have an evaluation for the violinist's financial capability to cover the insurance and neccessary maintenance fee, no? On another note, does Amati society have instrument loan program as well? I thoght I read somewhere that a teenage violinist was loaned a french violin from them.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am not sure Amati foundation is still in existence. Does it ? Anybody knows ?

Yuen.

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From what I have seen, instrument loan programs seem to be more common (or at least better publicized) in Europe. Canada has a sizable instrument "bank" as does Norway I believe. I have yet to read about an artist complaining about the requirement to provide upkeep and insurance on the instrument. The article also mentions that the artist plays 2-3 concerts per year, hardly what most would consider being at the "beck and call" of the donor. I also find it interesting to note that the article mentions an artist who offers cristicism of the fund yet who still ejoys a "brisk career as a solo violinst" despite the fact that she no longer plays in instrument from the society. The article had an earlier quotation that the career of an artist playing anything less than a Strad or Del Gesu "goes nowhere".

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I have asked this question before, with little response. But since

the subject IS about violin loan foundations...Are there any loan

programs that loan instruments starting at 1/2 size up to the full

4/4 size?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
mommag

As I was searching for some info on how to get a nice violin loaned

to a aspiring musician, I came across this article.  I was

shocked and it is almost scary to know the politics behind the

scene.  How are those budding   young musicians

going to be able  to afford to fly wherever the sponsor

requests on their own expense?  What is your take on this?

 

 
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http://ww...r...a_heavy_pric.htm
.

 


First; I'd take much of what is on Reuter site with a grain of salt. Not that some of what he mentions isn't true, but in my opinion, the information is tinted with "dark colors"... and that particular journalist suffers from the same problem, IMHO.

Second; The Stradivari society isn't for "everyone". It's for players who fit the society's requirements and who are at a point in their career that they will be aided by the loan. If it's what one desires, being able to play a fine old Italian fiddle for the cost of maintenance and insurance is quite an opportunity, in my opinion.

Do the owners of the instrument and the dealership gain by the relationship? Sure! Does the player gain by the relationship? Sure! I don't see a problem if all parties win. BTW, the society is NOT non-profit... and has not pretended to be so.

Are there other foundations that loan instruments? Yes. Several. Some specialize in contemporary or semi-modern instruments. Others in older instruments. Some include fractional instruments, others do not. Some qualify the scholarships by need/merit, some by just merit... an some are non-profit.

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Jeffrey, thank you for your input. After receiving posts from other people, I realized that Stradivarius Society is for promising violinists whose carrers are already in the bright directions who can afford the maintenance and insurance fees. I am sure the Society carefully choose the candidates to the investors' instruments to match financially and musically to benefit both sides. I've learned a lot from this thread about violin loan and how it works. Thank you.

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I read the article...although I had to search for it...the link doesn't work.

Getting on my soapbox now.......

My scene isn't really connected to the high powered world of the "next great soloist" but affording (buy or borrow) instruments is increasingly a problem for young players and professionals. Some of my friends play in great UK Symphony Orchestras and do not own their violins. They cannot afford decent violins and are stuck in a permanent void. With young players, there are schemes but mostly I avoid these now and run my own loan scheme. It is a question of simple economics, here in the UK (as around the world no doubt) instrument are "worth" what buyers are prepared to pay for them and many people have too much money; we have collosal inflation in the cost of buying a house (which also disadvantages musicians) and it's not nearing it's end. Consequently, the rich families spend whatever it costs to buy their "prodigies" good violins and the rest suffer from the fake "inflation". There is no answer, but the flip side is that many wealthy people often step in with instrument loans and financial assistance for the tuition. What I think is so sad though is that as professional workers have doubled their fees in the last few years, the earning potential for a musician is not keeping pace. We should live in a "meritocracy" but we don't........the only way around this problem is for those of us that can do something (with our time or violins) to help in any way.

I had a parent visit me the other day wanting lessons for his child, he suggested a payment-in-kind (i.e. his services for mine) and boasted a) that he charged $240 p.h. and :) that affording $20,000 for a new instrument "would not be a problem". I heard the child and realised that money cannot buy talent! and turned down the offer.....I'd rather teach a poor child for free instead....

T_D

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