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ODU's String Quartet Awarded Rare Italian Corrochano Instruments

The Diehn String Quartet, comprising the best string instrument students at Old Dominion University, has been awarded a set of matching modern Italian instruments by maker Alvaro Corrochano as part of a scholarship sponsored by the Virginia chapter of the American String Teachers Association (VASTA).

The quartet will have use of the instruments, a viola, a cello and two violins, for one year and is required to perform with the instruments at four area high schools and four community events during that time. Leslie Fritelli, adjunct associate professor of music, will oversee rehearsals with the students, who are responsible for the insurance and proper maintenance of the rare instruments.

The quartet includes violinists Anna Dobrzyn and Mary Dart, both juniors majoring in music education; violist Shirley Luu, a junior majoring in international studies with a minor in music; and cellist Kevin Jones, a senior music performance major.

"This is an incredible honor for them and a wonderful inspiration for their continued excellence and success," said Lucy Manning, assistant professor of music and director of the ODU Symphony Orchestra, who is president-elect of VASTA. She credited Fritelli for submitting the application.

The application opportunity was available to any college string quartet in Virginia whose school hosts a student chapter of VASTA. Other eligible institutions included James Madison University, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shenandoah Conservatory.

The award was presented during the Virginia Music Educators Association fall conference, which was held at the Homestead in Hot Springs last month. The ODU quartet is scheduled to perform at next year's conference.

The instruments, a gift from an anonymous donor and collector of fine instruments, are all made of wood from the same tree and designed to blend tonally. The second violin, for example, is not only an exquisite instrument in its own right, but has been adjusted to serve as a tonal bridge between the first violin and the viola.

This technique of creating a "blended quartet" contributes to the rarity and value of the instruments, since a luthier (one who makes stringed musical instruments) will only make them on commission because of the extra time and expense required. It took Corrochano, the Spanish-born instrument maker who studied, and now lives, in Italy, more than a year to build this particular set.

This article was posted on: December 22, 2008

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