For a moment, Saskia Tomkins felt that euphoria familiar to musicians when a successful show comes to an end.
She had just finished performing at the 4th Line Theater’s ‘Christmas Comes to Mind’ show last December near Millbrook. There was applause from the audience. She took her last bow. And then everything – literally – fell apart around her.
“I slipped on a step and dive-bombed the audience,” she recalls. “I did one of those comics, you know, kind of a cartoon-type drop.”
Then she heard the crack.
Tomkins clutched his violin under his arm, as one is supposed to carry such a precious instrument. She was unhurt in the fall, but the violin was badly damaged.
Worth around $15,000, it has accompanied her for more than 20 years.
“It’s become a part of me…it’s my soul mate,” she says. “I’m not really a person who values things very much, but I couldn’t believe it…for weeks it felt like something had died. I was just heartbroken.
Today, his fans and friends in the music world are rallying to his rescue.
Lindy Erin Finlan, general manager of the 4th Line Theatre, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Tomkins pay for repairs to the violin.
“Unfortunately Saskia had no insurance at the time and the full amount to cover the repairs is financially prohibitive for 4th Line to fully cover,” she posted on the fundraising page. And 4th Line’s insurance is not designed to cover this kind of accident.
Finlan says 4th Line Theater will cover any difference between what is collected and the total amount needed for repairs and devaluation of the violin. Tomkins estimates it will cost at least $6,000 to fix it, but considering the damage, even after repairs it will have lost about 20% of its value.
Since the launch of the fundraiser just two days ago (February 28), over $3,500 has been raised.
The musician says she has other instruments, including teaching violins, but this particular piece was bought on the Isle of Wight when she was just 18.
“I’m from England. I went to the Isle of Wight with my dad on holiday and had saved up and saved for a violin. I have artist parents so they never had any money.
He (the owner) said, ‘Well, take it with you. And when you can, send me the money,” so I sent her a check a year later.
If there’s a silver lining to her story, she found it just south of Marmora. The type of repairs needed for the instrument require special talents, and she says the talent is nearby.
Luke Mercier has been a violin restorer for nearly 30 years, having handled, studied and restored many rare and important violins, violas and cellos. His most expensive restoration projects to date are those of Antonio Stradivari ‘Baumgartner’ of 1689, works by Francesco Stradivari, JB Guadagninni, JB Vuillaume, Amati, Guarnieri and Tononi.
Since 2006, he has operated his workshop and studio in Springbrook, and he has agreed to carry out repairs on his violin.