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I recently fulfilled an old dream: to deliver an instrument to a musician in an exotic part of the world. Daniel Prazeres is principal viola at the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira,  in Rio de Janerio. He has been searching for a viola with particular rich and dark tone and a local violin maker suggested that a poplar viola might be what he was looking for. An internet search lead him to my website, we had some discussions about violas and it turned out that I had one in poplar of exactly the dimensions that Daniel had in mind. He was very keen to try it, I was a little hazy about how to make an overseas sales so the simplest solution was to take the fiddle down there myself – I mean: it’s Rio! What else could I do? I figured that even if the viola didn’t suit Daniel,  we would at least get a fun trip out of it.  So two weeks later my partner Tina and I were on our way to Rio. We could only spare a week but had a fabulous time. My cosmopolitan musician friends will know about the diversity and the spirit of the music down there. We heard music of the highest quality passionately delivered and enthusiastically received, this despite the brutal funding cuts that classical music and the arts in general are currently suffering due to the unstable economy. Of course there were many other delights, the richly diverse city is a visual, historic, cultural and culinary feast.  Here are some highlights from our trip

Daniel meets his viola

A wonderful recital by Tomaz Soares and Priscila Bonfim, including a short piece by Tomaz’s late father.

The workshop of Luthier Newton Rolla. It is a really nice little shop on high floor of a modern building. I liked the aluminum cabinets and trim.

Mister Newton explaining to me how this Italian-Brazilian violin maker salvaged his European maple when the knocked down the old symphony hall. I later heard this same story applied to another maker.

Newton Rolla and his father

A violin show and tell