Virginia Villa, director of Museo del Violino, previews the 15th edition of Cremona’s Triennale competition, which begins in September. Photos from the 2015 edition

The International Triennale Violin Making Competition Antonio Stradivari, which will take place in Cremona from 7 September to 14 October 2018, is the Olympics of violin making. The contest, promoted by the Fondazione Museo del Violino and organised this year for the 15th time, is an incredible way to bring together instrument makers and musicians from all over the world. A total of 334 craftspeople from 31 different countries applied for the 2015 competition.

The significance and value of the contest stem from the experience and passion that all the craftspeople put into their work, instilling it with knowledge, personality, quality and professionalism. The creativity applied to established techniques, the variety of solutions put forward, especially in the viola and cello categories, and the tireless research carried out by many instrument makers lead to a fascinating and wide-ranging panorama of the best professional international violin making.

Applicants must comply with strict criteria: only new instruments built after 2015 in line with traditional classical violin making techniques are allowed, with no artificially antiqued instruments.

Craftsmanship and acoustic performance will be considered together, repeating a formula that has been honed over previous years

The instruments will be judged by an exceptionally high-calibre jury, chaired by Renzo Rebecchi, who has supported major violin making-related projects as secretary general of the Municipality of Cremona and a member of the Cariplo Foundation. The jury will comprise violin makers Alberto Giordano, Marco Nolli, Zheng Quan, Guy Rabut and Jan Strick, and musicians Glauco Bertagnin, Enrico Fagone, Jana Kuss, Michel Michalakakos and David Pia.

Craftsmanship and acoustic performance will be considered together, repeating a formula that has been honed over previous years. The Museo del Violino acts as the logistical base for the competition. Acoustic tests and concerts will be held in the Auditorium Giovanni Arvedi, and a special gala evening will take place on 26 September at the Teatro Ponchielli, where the musicians on the jury will play a selection of the best instruments.

From 27 September to 14 October the instruments will be on public display in the Andrea Amati Pavilion, with the prize-winning instruments exhibited in the rooms of the museum, reinforcing the continuity of the tradition that binds the late-Renaissance violin making workshops with the studios of today. Instruments awarded a gold medal will be purchased by the Museo del Violino, with the makers of the winning violin and viola each receiving €16,000 and those of the winning cello and double bass €24,000.

The gold-medal instruments will join the museum’s permanent contemporary violin making collection, to be displayed alongside masterpieces by Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri ‘del Gesù’. There are also many special prizes on offer. Finally, all the instruments admitted into the competition will feature in the official catalogue.

The competition provides an important opportunity to reflect on the meaning, beauty, relevance and importance of the finest violin making craftsmanship, and pay tribute to the art of makers who maintain the necessary rigour in today’s dynamic environment. Expertise and knowledge allow these masters of their craft to interpret a time-honoured design perfectly and turn it into something with a clear, alluring and meaningful spirit, ensuring the traditions of yesterday continue today, and most importantly tomorrow.