Held at Potter Violins from 3 to 11 May 2024, Robyn Sullivan reports back from the event that had discussion, laughter and music making at its heart


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My name is Robyn Sullivan, I am the lead organiser of the current Celebrating Women Luthiers, an International Exhibit, and senior resident luthier at Potter Violins. I am excited to share some of the photos from the start of this fantastic ongoing exhibit and surrounding events with you.

There’s still time to see and play these instruments at Reuning & Son in NYC 3 to 9 June and Sapp Violins in Batavia, IL 13 to 19 July. 

Celebrating Women Luthiers, an International Exhibit began on Friday 3 May with a Meet the Makers Open House at Potter Violins. 


Kathleen Thomas, Rebecca Pierce, Shelby Martignaccio, Caitlin McGinn, Itzel Ávila, Sofia Vettori, Ute Zahn, Robyn Sullivan, Sally Mullikin, Isabelle Wilbaux, Katherine Kidwell, Kristin Siegfried Ballenger


Twelve participating women luthiers were in attendance - Kathleen Thomas, Rebecca Pierce, Shelby Martignacco, Caitlin McGinn, Itzel Ávila, Sofia Vettori, Ute Zahn, Robyn Sullivan, Sally Mullikin, Isabelle Wilbaux, Katherine Kidwell, and Kristin Siegfried Ballenger. 

It was a joyous evening filled with music, talk, and laughter. I was privileged to lead the event and took a few moments to speak about the evolution of Celebrating Women Luthiers, an International Exhibit and its continued relevance. I shared the floor with the other women luthiers in attendance. I asked them all to speak about how they support other women in the luthier community. They all spoke eloquently about all the different ways they are able to do so. Many of them have been or continue to be teachers. Ute Zahn spoke about her involvement with Luthiere sans Frontières (Luthiers without Borders)



Women Luthiers talking about how they uplift other women in our industry (left to right - Katheen Thomas, Sally Mullikin, Isabelle Wilbaux, Shelby Martignaccio, Kristin Siegfried Ballenger, Caitlin McGinn, Itzel Ávila, Sofia Vettori


Cheers on the porch of Potter Violins for CWL Open House Night


Sofia Vettori speaking about her violin with exhibit visitors



Potter Violins hosted a special chamber music concert on Saturday May 4 and 11 in the John Kendall Recital Hall at Potter Violins. The concert showcasing compositions by women composers was exclusively performed by women musicians, all of whom played instruments from the exhibit.


Freya Creech, Holly Nelson, Kathryn Hufnagle and Dan Zhang


Holly Nelson did a spectacular job organising the programme for the event and played first violin. In the two concerts Holly played violins made by Ada Quaranta, Robyn Sullivan, and Baerbel Bellinghousen with bows made by Iris Zhulla and Amelyse Arroyo. 

Freya Creech played second violin. In the two concerts Freya played on violins made by Andrea Castañeda Flores, Jennifer Creadick, and Amanda Ewing, with bows by Rebecca Pierce and Iris Zhulla. 

Dan Zhang played viola. In the two concerts, Dan played violas by Ornella Ceci and Stella Eunbyul Yoo, with bows by Suzy Schmitt and Rebecca Pierce.

Kathryn Hufnagle played cello. In the two concerts Kathryn played on cellos by Caitlin McGinn and Corinne Shaffer Hopkins, with bows made by Iris Zhulla and Amelyse Arroyo. 




Dalton Potter


The quartet performed works by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Imogen Holst, Emilie Mayer, Germaine Tailleferre, Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen, Johanna Müller-Hermann and Florence Price. The pieces were dazzling but also technically daunting to play and I wanted the musicians to be as comfortable as possible for the performances. They chose the instruments that felt most comfortable to them. The only instrument request I made was that Amanda Ewing’s violin be played for the Florence Price piece. It was an amazing moment to experience a violin made by the first recorded African American woman luthier playing a piece composed by one of the first African American women composers. 

Lastly, I have to mention and thank the International Alliance of Violin and Bow Makers for Endangered Species. One of the more daunting parts of organising this exhibit was being the importer of instruments from around the world, and being responsible for making sure all the paperwork was done correctly. I am grateful to the Alliance for helping me educate myself as well as my colleagues on how to ship their instruments according to US laws. Allow me to encourage you to please donate if you can. The Alliance is making sure that our industry has a voice at the international legal tables where the laws protecting our natural materials are made. They are also doing their best to ensure that we learn about our materials and sources so that we can make more informed and more sustainable choices. Any donation, no matter how big or small, will make you a member. Learn more here: https://www.alliance-international.org/


Robyn Sullivan introducing the quartet and recognising Alliance International’s help with shipping logistics and work towards sustainability

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the snapshots of the kick-off events at Potter Violins for the second Celebrating Women Luthiers, an International Exhibit.  

It’s not over yet! I hope you are able to check it out at Reuning & Son in NYC 3 to 9 June and Sapp Violins in Batavia IL 13 to 19 July.

All photos courtesy Yassine El Mansouri, Elman Studio.

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