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Berl Mendenhall

VSA Convention, Who's Going

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Right, who won the belt and is there a picture of him wearing it?  Did they test for steroids?  And where's a picture of Burgess?  Near as I can figure he looks like Hulk Hogan back when he was taking care of himself.

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Here is Eric Meyer with an admirer. He is demonstrated his clean air mask.attachicon.gifIMG_0375.JPG

Don Noon demonstrated how to measure wood properties for evaluating tone production.attachicon.gifIMG_0373.JPG

In the competition room we got to examine the entries and even play them.attachicon.gifIMG_0379.JPG

Jeff Haas, Anders Buen, Mike Molnar, Don Noon, and Julian Cossman Cooke had a great meal at the banquet dinner. No one won.

attachicon.gifIMG_0370.JPG

Thanks for the photographs Mike.

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For those who might not have noticed, there was the rather unusual result of only one violin winning anything for tone (the double-gold instrument).  No silver medals, no certificates of merit for tone.  Make of that what you will.

 

As usual, this event was where I get to see the gap between my stuff and the top pros.  That's a good thing.  Also good is that the gap appears to be bridgeable (is that a word?) with a little more effort and experience. Next time.

 

But I don't want to forget the best part of the trip:  hanging out with like-mindless violin nuts, and several very good players.

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But I don't want to forget the best part of the trip:  hanging out with like-mindless violin nuts, and several very good players.

 

:D  :D  :D

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 there was the rather unusual result of only one violin winning anything for tone

 

There were very few awards for tone across the instrument classes.

 

A couple of triple gold award winners for bows - very impressive.

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I just returned home from the convention. This was my first time attending and it was an absolute blast! Some highlights from the week were meeting so many people I'd heard of either here or elsewhere. The Peter of Mantua violins in the rare instrument exhibit were worth the whole trip. In particular, the back on one them was EVERYTHING. 

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For those who might not have noticed, there was the rather unusual result of only one violin winning anything for tone (the double-gold instrument).  No silver medals, no certificates of merit for tone.  Make of that what you will.

 

As usual, this event was where I get to see the gap between my stuff and the top pros.  That's a good thing.  Also good is that the gap appears to be bridgeable (is that a word?) with a little more effort and experience. Next time.

 

But I don't want to forget the best part of the trip:  hanging out with like-mindless violin nuts, and several very good players.

Did you also notice that the tone judges were not scheduled to give feedback after the competition?  It wasn't much of a new learning experience--I already had known that Great Lakes beer was pretty good.

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I was at VSA convention for the first time and I am glad I decided to come. I have met a lot of very nice people and seen many great instruments. The current US violinmaking seems to differ from the European a lot.

 

Antique varnished instruments are not accepted to the competitions here in Europe mostly.  Although I like both styles you are much more ahead as for the current market needs. Some of the instruments exhibited at the end of the convention have been incredibly pretilly made. Congratulations to all the winners!

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Don kind of danced around this but I will say it. I was very disappointed in the tone judging, poor, poor, poor. Of all those violins there wasn't even one that deserved even a certificate if merit. There were contestants from half way around the world that had considerable expense in entering and attending the convention. Other than the quartet winning the silver metal for tone that was it for violin. This may sound like sour grapes from me but it's not really. Its sour grapes for everyone that entered. The tone judges were saying you all are not worthy of professional consideration, go back home and try again. Believe me, I may not have been worthy, but there were some who were.

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It was nice finally meeting you and  your family, Bohdan. (I was the guy with the remote control violin that zoomed around on the floor.)

We were also pleased by meeting you David. It is really not difficult to remember you. Although your violins have to be great and famous, the new type of floating violin you brought with you was really eye-catching  :) .

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Don kind of danced around this but I will say it. I was very disappointed in the tone judging, poor, poor, poor. Of all those violins there wasn't even one that deserved even a certificate if merit. 

As for my humble opinion, i would appreciate opening the tone evaluation for public (just for listening of course). 

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Other than the quartet winning the silver metal for tone that was it for violin.

 

From the posted results, there were also 3 certificate of merit winners for quartet tone. Which is interesting since 2 of the 3 violin tone judges make up half of the quartet tone judges. It's also interesting that you can win a silver medal for quartet tone and not receive any other tone awards.

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From the posted results, there were also 3 certificate of merit winners for quartet tone. Which is interesting since 2 of the 3 violin tone judges make up half of the quartet tone judges. It's also interesting that you can win a silver medal for quartet tone and not receive any other tone awards.

 

"The sum is greater than the parts."

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Don kind of danced around this but I will say it. I was very disappointed in the tone judging, poor, poor, poor. Of all those violins there wasn't even one that deserved even a certificate if merit. There were contestants from half way around the world that had considerable expense in entering and attending the convention. Other than the quartet winning the silver metal for tone that was it for violin. This may sound like sour grapes from me but it's not really. Its sour grapes for everyone that entered. The tone judges were saying you all are not worthy of professional consideration, go back home and try again. Believe me, I may not have been worthy, but there were some who were.

I wasn't at the convention and have no reference to the judging beyond what was said here, and I am sure there were  "worthy" top professionals who had amazing sounding instruments, but   one thing that struck me in sorting through what people are saying,  is that the individual player is the ultimate judge of what they like or not (and who will purchase instruments or not).    And since we are making instruments for actual players, maybe this is how is should be.  

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I wasn't at the convention and have no reference to the judging beyond what was said here, and I am sure there were  "worthy" top professionals who had amazing sounding instruments, but   one thing that struck me in sorting through what people are saying,  is that the individual player is the ultimate judge of what they like or not (and who will purchase instruments or not).    And since we are making instruments for actual players, maybe this is how is should be.  

That's all true but world class players don't buy very many violins.

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That's all true but world class players don't buy very many violins.

Marty , I am not sure of the context of your response and I apologize if I wasn't clear in my post.    I was just saying that individual players have their preferences, no matter if they are top level soloists or quartet players or University students.  Individuals are... well .... individual and maybe there is something about that that is reflected in the results.  

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As for the tone judging, my guess is that the acoustics of the testing room were different from what the judges were used to. Is this the same testing room as in past years when silver medal tone awards were given? Can someone describe the room? Acoustically live, or dead?

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I wonder what the average number of violins owned by top players is? And how many are of what approximate quality?

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That's all true but world class players don't buy very many violins.

Elmar Oliveira is known for his support of living makers by purchasing (or at least using) their instruments. He has recorded on a violin made by one of the makers that posts here.  

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Elmar Oliveira is known for his support of living makers by purchasing (or at least using) their instruments. He has recorded on a violin made by one of the makers that posts here.  

I don't understand what the voting has to be to get into the VSA metal round.  Maybe the two judges who were great quartet players had different ideas from what the one great soloist (Elmar) wants.  Is a great soloist violin the same as a great quartet violin?   How do we pick winners if they're not the same?

 

How do we pick our judges: three soloists, two soloists and one quartet player, one soloist and two quartet players or three quartet players?   Would the judging outcomes all be the same?

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All three tone judges mostly agreed about what they liked and disliked, according to them.  The competition room had both poor lighting and acoustics.  Two of the three judges told me they were paying a lot of attention to the playability/feeling when trying instruments, and even though there were several instruments that sounded good they didn't necessarily feel all that great.  

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I didn't have a horse in this race so the results didn't affect me.  But I thought it was strange that the two quartet players publicly said wonderful and very complimentory things about the quality of the violins that were entered and yet afterward we discovered that there weren't any tone certificates awarded.  They could have just told us all the instruments were lousy but that would have eliminated all the suspense.

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