The violinist was formally handed over the instrument from UKARIA on 18 November 2023


Violinist Emily Sun © Nik Babic

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Australian violinist Emily Sun has been named the latest custodian of ‘The Adelaide’ violin, crafted in Milan in 1753-57 by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini.

Currently held in trust by UKARIA, the instrument was purchased by the people of South Australia in 1955 and is today valued at over $1 million. It has previously been played by an illustrious list of Australian violinists with a connection to South Australia, including Carmel Hakendorf, William Hennessy, Jane Peters, Sophie Rowell, Paul Wright and Natsuko Yoshimoto. UKARIA CEO Alison Beare formally handed over the instrument to Emily Sun on Saturday 18 November.

’This Guadagnini has a “golden” sound,’ Sun said. ‘I feel very privileged to play on this beautiful instrument, during this fleeting period of its already long life and history. The tone is very warm, dark and rich; very even and homogenous across the registers.

‘It is my responsibility to understand “The Adelaide” and draw out its authentic sound, rather than impose on it my perception of what it should sound like - it takes time, patience and love to truly understand its depth and possibilities,’ continued Sun, who previously played on a 1760 Nicolò Gagliano violin.

Sun is currently professor of violin at the Royal College of Music in London. Her 2024 season sees her continue as Adelaide Symphony Orchestra artist-in-association. Record releases will include concerto performances with the London Mozart Players and with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for ABC Classic. 


UKARIA CEO Alison Beare with violinist Emily Sun © Nik Babic

’We’re thrilled to have a mid-career artist of Emily’s calibre as the next recipient of “The Adelaide” Guadagnini violin,’ commented UKARIA CEO Alison Beare. ‘Emily has become an audience favourite in concert halls across Australia, and her ever-increasing array of international engagements are yet another testament to her universal appeal. Her close connection with local and national audiences will ensure the violin continues to be heard in Australia, while also playing a part in furthering her international career in London, as it once did for the inaugural custodian, Carmel Hakendorf, back in the 1950s.’ 

Carmel Hakendorf was a virtuoso violinist who was invited by Sir John Barbirolli to give her debut in London in the early 1950s. Determined to ensure that the young artist had an instrument worthy of her talent, the Music Committee of South Australia launched a public subscription that, with the help of several performances by Hakendorf, raised 1,750 pounds. With these funds they purchased the Guadagnini violin for Hakendorf’s use.

The South Australian Guadagnini Violin Trust was formed in 1955 to preserve the violin for future generations. Hakendorf became a violinist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and following her retirement, the Guadagnini violin was lent to numerous violinists.

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