As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with wood and hand tools that shape it. I can still recollect my introduction to orchestra in the 4th grade. All my friends wanted to learn to play the violin, but all I could think about was how exciting it would be to learn how to make one.
After earning degrees in French from the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, with emphasis in Medieval Literature and Art, I began a 4-year violin making apprenticeship with David Folland. I continued my studies in the early 1990s with the celebrated masters Vahakan Nigogosian and Horatio Pinero during six summers at Oberlin. I opened my own shop in 1992 and been making and restoring instruments for over a quarter of a century.
In addition to restoring many of the instruments of the celebrated 17th and 18th century Italian and French masters, I have completed over 50 instruments of my own. Two historical instruments that I restored are now on permanent display at the Nation Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota.
In 2007, I took a year sabbatical to Europe, first to England and Italy to study the celebrated instruments in collections in Cremona and Oxford, and then to France to share ideas with colleagues whose work I greatly admire. In the workshops of these friends, I was able to rethink my craft, explore new methods of construction, experiment with new designs, argue harmonic theories, and complete 4 instruments.
Here’s a video about Laurence, made while his studio was in Chicago.
I design my instruments to suit the needs of the individual musician. Each of my violins is hand-crafted with care and precision, and designed for the musicians playing style. It is not enough that the instrument sounds good, plays easily and looks good. It has to feel comfortable under the chin.
I am currently taking commissions to make instruments – violins, cellos, violas from various U.S. and International manufacturers. Please schedule a consultation to discuss your needs.
To request a commission for an instrument, please schedule a consultation to discuss your needs.
Bow Rehairs, Tonal Adjustments, and Restorations
Repairs and restoration requests on other violins and bows are welcome. Please schedule an appointment for a repair estimate and consultation.
Full and fractional size violin, violas, and cellos.
Photos from left: Jennifer Kalika of Minnetonka, Minnesota recently commissioned a Baroque viola; Krista Halverson of Wheaton, Illinois is playing a specially designed 15 1/2″ viola commissioned in 2008; Anna and Maija, daughters of St. Olaf music professors, Paul and Eleanor Niemisto, purchased my very first instruments over 25 years ago.