Having played the violin for more years than I care to count (Fisher’s Ghost Youth Orchestra, the Caledonian Quartet, Brilliant Corners, and Hobo Syndicate)
and having recently taken up bass viol with the beginners group of the Glasgow Viol Consort, there are many interesting musical things to learn and remember, but most of all, to enjoy!
My violin was handmade by Australian maker John Godschall Johnson (1912-2003), in every way an extraordinary man. In line with his philosophy on life, John inscribed every one of his instruments with the instruction “This instrument may be freely given, never bought or sold“. As a delighted custodian of his No. 11 violin, at the age of 13, I was told by John that the instrument is mine “as long as I can make use of it. After that, [I am] to hand in on to someone else who will love and play it, and who might not be able to afford a quality instrument otherwise“. John died in 2003, a loss from which we will never recover, but I feel so privileged & changed to have known this wonderful, inspiring, giving, creative, activist, artist, man & maker, and to be able to cherish his violin. Information about John Godschall Johnson is not terribly easy to find, but here is a start.
Since moving to Glasgow in 2007, I have also played a few times at the Britannia Panopticon – the world’s oldest surviving music hall and the site of Arthur Stanley Jefferson’s debut (a.k.a Stan Laurel). I wholly recommend the team led by Judith Bowers, making huge progress in restoring the Panopticon to its former glory (infamy?).