This year was my first time attending the BVMA Makers’ Day. The event took place in Kings Place, a favourite haunt of mine.
Although I heard some people felt the space that the exhibitors had their stalls seemed more like a hallway than a hall, I thought the layout worked well. You could enter the space and wonder around without feeling like there was a lot of empty space – nor was it too crowded so the atmosphere felt exciting but not overwhelming.
There were roughly 40 exhibitors, the majority of which were displaying musical instruments (most commonly violins, but violas, cellos and double bass’ were also present) or musical instrument accessories such as rosins, tailpieces and chin-rests. Also in attendance were the wood suppliers Alpentonholz Pahler, which I saw many Merton students flocking to, The Strad, the Newark course stand, and last, but of course not least, the Merton course stand.
Lots of Merton alumni came by our stand to say hello, they all seem to be doing well and it was great to hear about their setups. Our stall was next to the very friendly Colin Robert Cross who chatted to me and offered advice about various aspects of violin making throughout the morning. His wife, Anstey Harris has a debut fiction book containing a cello maker protagonist coming out with Simon & Schuster next year and was also friendly company. The pair then quite understandably abandoned us for the afternoon when Colin was offered a more prominent table space upstairs.
Just after lunch the Brodsky Quartet played a variety of instruments selected from the exhibitors – five minutes before this started I was asked to come and be the ‘cello handler’ which involved having to pick up the terrifyingly valuable cellos and pass them to the quartet’s cellist, before taking her previous instrument out of her hands and placing it back on the floor without dropping or bashing anything in front of the whole audience… possibly the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life, but it was great getting to hear the quartet at such close proximity.
Among the instruments selected by the quartet was a Newark student’s violin – an impressive feat, and something to spur us on(!)
As the day wound down, a few more people interested in the course came by for a chat, we also had Neville Gardner of the Halsway Manor weekend course come and tell us all about it – it sounds like good fun so I’ll add the details to our events page.
A teacher from a Polish violin making school also discussed the possibility of a student exchange programme between Merton and them – as they’re in the EU it should be a fairly straight forward thing to organise (for now, ahem) so if students are receptive to this idea please let me know.
All in all, a great day full of very friendly people. I highly recommend it!