In August 2021, 25 violin and bow makers of 11 nationalities descended upon the German town of Brandenberg an der Havel for the town’s first ever violin making workshop.
Coordinated by a Canadian luthier based in Brandenburg Ian McWilliams, it was an opportunity for luthiers to experience a week of shared ideas, inspiration and learning away from the solitary confinement of their own workshops. ’We want to bring people together…people get this energy from being together’. As the luthiers work in a large communal church hall, he highlights that it’s a chance for them to create conversations and learn about their craft by working in close proximity with each other.
The idea is based on the annual workshop that occurs in Oberlin, Ohio, yet many luthiers based in or around Europe expressed that there was need for a European workshop for ease of travel, ’I came here from Brussels on a train with my tools. I don’t have to worry about going through airport security with knives and chisels. Plus it’s more affordable than a trans-Atlantic journey,’ stated Niall Flemming, an Australian bow-maker living in Ireland.
McWilliams emphasises the social aspect of the workshop, with luthiers staying and cooking together, and evenings dedicated to chamber music making. He hopes to make the workshop an annual event.