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This is a place where our classical hosts, interns and artists can share their stories, viewpoints and point of view on topics related to classical music and the arts in general. Come back to this page often to read the latest and share your comments.

Classical music's luthiers, and the "long COVID" impact on the "craft" of music making

Luthier (violin maker) in his workshop
Michela Vado
One of three young craftsmen at work in the bottega of Giorgio Grisales, the president of the city’s ‘Antonio Stradivari’ Consortium of violin makers

"Long COVID" is a term used to define the long-term, persistent symptoms of COVID-19 in individuals who have contracted the virus. For some, the symptoms are mild, but for others, symptoms like extreme fatigue and difficulty with concentration can be serious. But "Long COVID" is also taking a toll on the classical music industry in more ways than we might imagine.

According to a BBC report, the classical music industry has been among the hardest-hit by COVID-19. From orchestras being financially crippled by cancelled concerts, to musicians who have been laid off due to reduced revenue and closed venues; musical tours cancelled due to travel restrictions; music festivals being cancelled; choral singing (which has been associated with positive psychological outcomes) showing significant negative impact on singers; and ultimately, how individuals engage with music.

An exhibition of Korean-made instruments, held in Seocho in early 2022
Tae Seok Kim
An exhibition of Korean-made instruments, held in Seocho in early 2022

For many, music making and the craft of making musical instruments, is their livelihood, and the good news for some luthiers (violin makers) around the world, is a growing demand for skillfully crafted, hand-made instruments coming from Korea, Italy, the UK, Germany, France and the US, many of whom are recognized as winners in international competitions for violin making and bow making.

But for luthiers in Cremona, Italy, COVID-19 has not been kind, putting a strain on Cremona's economy, threatening the violin making industry (a tradition since the 16th century), and jeopardizing the cultural arts sector globally.

There is much more to this story, and I encourage you to learn more about the places that have seen growth and progress, as well as those that have faced significant challenges by the pandemic. There's also an article on displaced Ukrainian luthier Oleksandr Smykovskyi and how the violin world is coming together to provide aid to him since his home, violin shop, all his tools, wood stock and violins in progress were completely destroyed in the Russian/Ukrainian war.

Read more/sources:

Violin making in Seoul: Gangnam style

The dark future for the worlds greatest violin makers

The Psychological and Biological Impact of “In-Person” vs. “Virtual” Choir Singing in Children and Adolescents

Tarisio to Auction Violin by Ukrainian Luthier Oleksandr Smykovskyi