As part of its ongoing work to assist musicians with acquiring or borrowing performance-quality instruments, Si-Yo loaned a 1902 Paul Kaul violin to Si-Yo Artist™ Alejandro Mendoza, internationally acclaimed violinist. But this was not just a typical instrument loan; it was a reunion for the musician and the instrument he had previously owned for decades.
Many years ago, when Mr. Mendoza was about to finish high school in Chile, he performed at Sala Isidora Zegers, a small concert hall Santiago, Chile. He played pieces by Beethoven, Vitali, and Kreisler.
“After the concert, I saw a rather frail older lady patiently waiting her turn to see me,” he remembers. “She hugged me affectionately like a grandmother would hug her grandson, even though I didn't know her. She was petite and thin, with sad brown eyes and white hair tied back in a bun.”
With tears in her eyes, the woman told him how much she had enjoyed the concert and that her late husband had been a professional violinist who liked to play some of the pieces that Mendoza had just performed. When she asked the young student what he wanted to do with his life, he replied that he had always wanted to be a violinist. “I told her how excited I was to soon be traveling to the legendary Meadowmount School of Music, where many great violinists had studied with the illustrious teacher Ivan Galamian,” he recalls.
“Then she said that she wanted me to have her husband’s dearest possession, his violin, to help me achieve my dream,” he explains. “I replied that I was humbled that she chose me to have such a dear instrument and that I would be grateful to play it in honor of her late husband.”
From that point on, Mr. Mendoza and the violin were virtually inseparable: He auditioned with it for the Juilliard School, where he was later accepted; performed with it at concerts in the United States, Japan, Venezuela, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Chile; and won many prizes and honors with it as an adult. In 2002 he celebrated the violin's 100th birthday by giving several performances with it.
“I made music with this instrument in very distinguished international concert halls, but I also took it to very humble remote villages around the world,” he says. “I also used it to teach young violinists of all ages.”
Then, due to difficult circumstances, musician and instrument were separated for a few years until the Foundation brought the two together again.
“I’m grateful to Si-Yo for this incredible reunion and I am elated to be making music with this precious violin again; it is as if the stars have aligned,” he says. “I look forward to continuing to perform and teach with this very dear friend in my hands.”