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Paolo Bodini on the Craft of Violinmaking

Dr. Paolo Bodini’s affiliation with Si-Yo as a trustee is particularly fitting: Much of his life has been dedicated to the craft of violinmaking in Cremona, Italy—the birthplace of the Stradivarius violin.

Former mayor of Cremona (1995–2005), Dr. Bodini holds positions at two Si-Yo Arts Partners™: He is Executive Director for Violinmaking Affairs at Museo del Violino, and President of Friends of Stradivari.

In the years since his mayorship, Dr. Bodini has focused on reviving the art of violinmaking in Cremona, which had lagged after the “golden age” that lasted until the end of the 17th century. He believes it to be not only an important economic pillar of the city, but also something of international historical significance, as demonstrated by UNESCO's addition of Cremonese violinmaking tradition to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012.

Today, there more than 150 violinmaking workshops in the city of only 70,000 people—the highest concentration of such shops in the world.

“I wanted to be able to bring the knowledge of Antonio Stradivari to the maximum expression,” he explains. “Young people come from all over the world to graduate at the International Violinmaking School and to apprentice with the shops here.”

Additionally, the International Triennale Violin Making Competition Antonio Stradivari—often referred to as “the Olympics of violinmaking”—is a major part of Cremona’s musical culture. More than 300 instruments—violin, viola, cello, and double bass—are judged by a jury of five renowned musicians and five renowned violinmakers.

“It’s very difficult to make a selection, and the number of competitors increases with every edition,” says Dr. Bodini.

“It’s a great privilege for the makers to win the competition because their instruments are displayed in the Museo del Violino, next to the masterpieces of the past,” he continues.

Amid this work, Dr. Bodini learned about Si-Yo from its Chairwoman and President, Eva Lerner-Lam, daughter of two of the co-founders. “I was attracted to the philosophy of the organization: The combination of high musical standards with social purposes,” he explains. “I appreciated the idea of spreading classical music geographically and socially, and also the idea of linking East and West—the United States, Italy, and China.”

The partnerships have resulted in events including co-presenting Si-Yo Artists™ Francisca Mendoza and Eric Silberger, both violinists, at the Museo del Violino; and Si-Yo's loan of the 1734 Lam-Scotland University Antonio Stradivarius violin to the museum for exhibition and performance in formal concerts, community events, and educational outreach activities throughout Europe.

Regarding future projects with Si-Yo, he says, “I think the partnerships are mutually beneficial and I look forward to continued collaborations between our musicians and organizations.”