Priceless violin loaned to the Shropshire musician for his debut album

Conor Gricmanis 26, was loaned this Andrea Amati violin which dates from 1572, to record his new album

Conor Gricmanis grew up on a farm with his family near Bishop’s Castle and started playing the violin at age five in elementary school.

His career has exploded in recent months with the lifting of restrictions on the music industry, and he has flown across Europe to perform at prestigious concerts. He was also named Principal Violinist of the London Baroque Orchestra at just 26 years old.

The past year and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on Conor’s career have been drastic. Conor had no income after graduating from the Royal College of Music last summer and couldn’t apply for any funding.

He was on the verge of having to sell his own 17th century violin just to survive, when he spoke to the people of Bishop’s Castle, where he resided, who helped set up a GoFundMe to help him get back on track. foot.

“Last year I struggled,” Conor said. “Having no money, I was about to sell my own violin to survive. It’s a 17th century Italian violin and I love it, but I had no money.

Conor Gricmanis with Andrea Amati violin from 1572

“I told the folks at Bishop’s Castle about it and they ended up creating a GoFundMe and donating to it, which was amazing. So it really saved me and saved me from selling my violin. this help, I could not have done all my auditions and shows. “

His career has now taken him to play a violin Andrea Amati from 1572 to record his first album in a matter of weeks. Benjamin Hebbert, owner of the violin, recently restored it and said it may be one of the oldest violins in playing condition, and Amati, the postman, was the first luthier to develop the violin as we know it today.

Benjamin hebbert

Benjamin lets Conor use his violin for free to record his debut album, which Conor said was amazing, since renting rare instruments usually costs a lot of money.

Amati founded a dynasty that spanned four generations in Cremona, in northern Italy, and his grandson formed Antonio Stradivari, the greatest of all luthiers.

Conor Gricmanis with Andrea Amati violin from 1572

This particular violin, Conor said, was allegedly commissioned by Catherine de Medici and ended up in the court of France during the reign of her son, King Charles IX of France.

Conor said: “I’m used to playing these older instruments and a lot of people always say I’m scared to drop or break it, and sure enough I am, but for me it’s fair. the excitement of playing it and knowing it’s amazing the story.

“The album I will record in London is Marco Uccellini, who was a great Baroque musician, which has never been recorded before – and that’s why I was loaned this special instrument.

“This brand of violin is the original. It was the family that basically invented the violins and it is one of the oldest surviving violins in the world from that family – its history is incredible.

Conor Gricmanis with Andrea Amati violin from 1572

“It was commissioned by the Medici family and ended up in French court, so there’s a chance Marie-Antoinette heard it play. I’m recording the album with my band, Noxwode, and we’re actually still crowdfunded and we have some time left to go so we would be grateful for any donation. “

Conor moved to Europe for around 12 months last year, playing concertos across the continent, and recently returned to the UK.

As the pandemic has put an end to all live performances, Conor said it’s hard not to perform in front of an audience and he’s happy things are opening up again now.

Conor Gricmanis with Andrea Amati violin from 1572

“I finished my studies halfway through the pandemic and we had to take our final exams on a recording on our phones,” he said.

“It was just a really bad time for the graduates because we weren’t used to paying taxes so we didn’t have any percentage of income to show so we couldn’t apply for government funding.

“I moved to Europe for a year and played a lot to further my career. I only recently came back to the UK but I feel stronger to be back. Things are opening up and more in addition to concerts and events are happening now, but it’s still a bit difficult and you still have to work.

“This CD is going to boost my career so much by having my first solo album, but it will be great to perform in front of the audience again. For musicians, that’s what it is.”