In the hands of every great performer appears the work of a great sculptor: a luthier. They claim to be the mediators between the musician and the tool. They claim to be the guardians of the melody. Also, the sculptors and painters of music.
Healing souls who preserve the well-being of the instruments and who meet until tomorrow at the International Luthiery Seminar to offer free workshops to Cartagena residents and visitors, as well as a special program at the Cartagena Music Festival in its XVII edition that comes to an end on January 13.
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the luthiers They referred to manufacturers or sellers of all kinds of musical instruments. Since the 16th century, its main architects began the professionalization of this art in Cremona (Italy): the Amati family gave rise, for example, to one of the most iconic instruments of classical music, the violin.
Later, one of the teachers of this school, Antonio Stradivari, will be famous for his violins requested by the entire European court in the 17th century.
In this edition of the festival, the Antonio Stradivari Institute of Higher Education and the Cremona International School of Violin Making give the Seminar on Luthery.
During several sessions they have trained the students of the ‘Technology in construction and repair of bowed string instruments’ of the Tolima Conservatory –based on the School of Cremona–, and other interested parties, in the secrets of this centuries-old tradition.
It is the set of many things together, from all wood disciplines, and it also has a plus: sound. You have to research a lot, learn a lot, to be a good luthier
In the clinics of luthierywhich take place alongside the seminar, the inhabitants of Cartagena can take violins, tiples, guitars, requintos and other bowed string instruments and symphonic winds to be repaired free of charge.
Nikolai Ceballos is one of the Colombian master luthiers who have participated several times in the Festival. He works at the Victor Salvi Foundation and gives the workshops together with his assistant Ángel Gil.
“To make a violin, the first thing is to choose the wood. For the soundboard it is spruce pine. For the bands, the back and the neck is maple, and normally ebony is used for the fingerboard, as well as the accessories, but these may vary a bit in their woods”, he explains about this creation process.
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Ceballos, who comes from a family of artists, says that his thing with the luthiery It was love at first sight. Almost 20 years ago he was studying carpentry, and his intention was to be an engineer.
A friend invited him to visit a luthier –when he was unaware of that trade–, but as soon as they arrived they saw some loose pieces of instruments. “I was struck by a crush and thought: ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life’”.
It was formed thanks to the teacher Eusebio Suta, and then with teachers of the Tuscany (Italy).
He specializes in bowed and plucked string instruments: violin, viola, cello and double bass, as well as lyre, guitar or harp. The first instruments he built were a classical guitar and a tiple.
“It is the set of many things together, from all wood disciplines, and it also has a plus: sound. You have to do a lot of research, learn a lot, educate yourself a lot to be a good luthier”, he explains.
Ceballos points out that one of the most complex and almost impossible challenges in his trade is to materialize the requests that musicians have in their heads.
“Sound is something that sometimes becomes subjective. The musician in general wants something that is on his mind, but that in truth does not exist or will never exist. That is a problem of transferring ideas from the musician to the luthier, because one wants to please him. That’s my job: to make the sound that doesn’t exist, but sometimes it’s so hard.”
Regarding the violin, the teacher explains that first the internal mold must be made, then the bands begin to be folded with water and heat to give those ‘lateral’ shapes.
One of the aspects that he points out is the importance of the ‘efes’, the side openings of the soundboard, which for many are an aesthetic accessory, but serve to give air compression an outlet and increase power by even 30 percent. of the instrument. On the other hand, the spiral-shaped curl has been maintained since its inception.
In Colombia, the first studies of luthiery they were organized through the Salvi Foundation, the Seine and the Ministry of Culture.
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The first group of teachers were instructed by teachers from Tuscany, and these, in turn, managed to create the first professional career in bowed string instrument construction at the Tolima Conservatory.
“Here there is a very good school of guitars, tiples, requintos. There is a lot of knowledge brought from Spain about guitar construction, although the tiple belongs to us”, explains Ceballos. And he adds: “We are a very ‘baby’ country in the historical sense. We still have a lot to explore and this is going to help us so that, let’s say, and it’s a personal theory, more music is born here. It is something that is cooked very slowly”.
According to the teacher, the luthiery receives a lot of support in the country due to its uniqueness, its novelty and its relationship with the development that culture is having recently in the country.
“I think that this development is going to take us down a path that is going to force us to think and change the whole cultural issue in general. The violin was born due to the pressure of the Catholic Church in the Inquisition. There were many prohibitions, and the only crack was the music. That forced it to grow up to the movements that European music has, which is very high. Here we are in a very interesting process with our sounds”.
The Seminary classes are taught by teachers Daniele Carlo Pitturelli, Daniele Renzi, Angelo Spergaza and Monica Anna Porfido.
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Workshops on the last day of the festival
This Friday, January 13, the following classes will be taught: ‘The experimentation project of the lutherie school of Cremona’, from 9 to 10:45 am, and “Principles of drawing the shape of the violin and the tuning of bowed instruments”, from 11
am to 1 pm The Seminar and the Luthiery Clinic open to the public take place at the University of Cartagena, San Agustín headquarters.
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GABRIELA HERRERA GOMEZ
EDITOR OF BOCAS MAGAZINE
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The luthiers, the masters of having the instruments at the exact point