A precious partnership
Dextra Musica is a subsidiary of The Savings Bank Foundation DNB. They have invested in instruments and lent them to Norwegian musicians since 2006. The foundation has a collection of period instruments for professional musicians, and a modern collection at the Norwegian Academy of Music and Barratt Due Institute of Music.
The collection of modern instruments keeps growing. In violin maker Magnus Nedregård’s workshop we were allowed to view two of the last assets. Almost 80 instruments make up the collection today, and the goal is to reach 100. These are also available to students.
Beneficial for students
Academy violin student Lotte Hellestrøm Hestad enjoys the benefits of the collaboration:
– I already had an instrument I was very pleased with, but now, when I can play an instrument that is this good – that I never would be able to afford on my own – I can take things to the next level as a musician, and in my musical development.
A goody bag for the Academy
Dextra Musica lends instruments to students, and an academy collection is also in the making, created with help of key persons at the school. Violin professor Peter Herresthal, one of these key persons that lend their expertise when new instruments are chosen, is very happy with the arrangement.
– These new modern instruments we have before us here are among the best made in the world today. This is a goody bag for our institution. Most long-established music schools in Europe have their own instruments and collections, but we are a young school and have not yet invested in string instruments, Herresthal explains.
The teachers that contribute to choosing instruments often use students as an inspiration.
– Our basis is finding out what the students want for their future, when they have completed their education. So we watch for trends in addition to assuring the quality of our investments. It takes some work, but it has been fruitful, especially these two instruments, says Herresthal indicating the two instruments displayed in Nedregårds workshop.
Professor Peter Herresthal and Dextra Musica's Eline Melgavis.
Recently arrived from Brussels and New York
Young viola player Mikael Grolid has received the opportunity to play a brand new, lovely viola that project manager at Dextra Musica, Eline Melgavis, brought home herself from New York. Violin maker Nedregård enthusiastically scrutinizes the instrument.
– This is a Mariani-model, a modern instrument made to look like an older viola of the Brescian style of Northern Italy, he explains.
Herresthal adds that even though it is a new instrument, and only cosmetically simulates an old instrument, the wood tells a story of its own.
– This was built by Christophe Landon in New York, and the wood is more than 350 years old, he says. In the hands of young Grolid it has already performed a viola concert with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Trondheim Soloists. – With this viola it just sounds so much larger when I play, says Grolid with a wide grin.
From concert master to academy students
The violin Hestad is using was brought from Brussels and is a copy of the violin played by well-known Leonidas Kavakos.
– It was built in the French tradition perfected by violin maker Vuillaume. It has not only one, but several makers, under the guidance of Florian Leonhard, who has one of Europe’s largest workshops for building and restoring string instruments, Herresthal tells me. Before Hestad received it, it was test played by non-other than Leonidas Kavakos.
– Kavakos, a leading violinist today, played it himself, as well as the concert master of the Brussels Philharmonic, explains Herresthal. Even with this backdrop, Hestads violin is not more than four years old, it was finished in 2012.
Maintenance is paramount
Nedregård and his workshop plays a key part in the collaboration between the Academy and Dextra Musica. String instruments are delicate, living objects that demand maintenance and care.
– These instruments, brought from the south, Brussels and New York, have never experienced a real Norwegian winter, he says. – Woodwork also changes over time. If an instrument gets a lot of use over time without receiving any maintenance, it will become worn, while proper care will reduce the wear to a minimum, Nedregård explains.
Melgavis from Dextra Musica emphasises that visiting Nedregård can be quite purposeful for each separate musician.
– There is a lot to learn about adjustments and setups for different musicians, depending on style and more, is her opinion.
Among the best in the world
The instruments now made available to young Grolid and Hestad are impressive enough on their own. However, violin maker Nedregård claims they belong to a collection that is quite impressive, internationally speaking.
– This is one of the finest instrument collections in the world, especially when combined with the period instruments. A lot of money and prestige is put into the period instrument collection. With the modern instruments in addition, this collection is one of a kind on this planet, he adds enthusiastically.
In other words, there is good reason for the Academy to be very happy with this arrangement so far, and future students can look forward to frolicking with instruments with a quality likened to that preferred by some of the greatest musicians in the world.
Violin student Lotte Hellstrøm Hestad, violin maker Magnus Nedregård and viola student Mikael Grolid.