I was born in South Side Chicago in 1956 and was raised with my sister and twin brother by our working mother. Later we moved to Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where I continued an early interest in music and woodworking. In 1974 I graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and went to college at the University of Arizona in Tucson. While in graduate school I left a promising career in paleoanthropology in order to pursue a long-held dream to become a violin maker.
My apprenticeship began in 1979 under the tutelage of Master Tschu Ho Lee at the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making in Chicago. Three and a half years later I successfully finished and became a journeyman violin maker. I then spent two and a half years working for Master Josef Kantuscher, Master Lee's teacher, in Mittenwald, Germany. Josef Kantuscher is perhaps the best-known living European violin maker north of the Alps, and my time with him was both difficult and invaluable. Next I worked for one and a half years near Hamburg with Master Christian Brosse, a truly gifted master of the fine art of restoration. My last year in Germany was devoted to rigorous courses and exams, and in the fall of 1986 I became a Master Violin Maker myself.
Upon my return to the States I worked as a master journeyman for two firms in Los Angeles, Robert Cauer Violins and Thomas Metzler Violins. I wanted to be around fine old instruments, learn from them, and learn the business here. In 1991 I opened my own shop in Los Angeles and soon had all the work I could manage, and then some. I became well-known for restoration and sound work but only had enough time to build one or two instruments a year. I wanted a slower pace that would allow me to build more instruments and devote myself to fewer, more exclusive restorations, so in 1993 I moved to Northern California with my wife, Ruth, a cellist with the San Francisco Opera.
We currently live with our two children (and assorted barnyard animals) on a small ranch outside Petaluma where I've built my own shop and have the time and space to focus on making concert violins, violas, and cellos, as well as the restoration of fine instruments from the past. I feel blessed to be living my dream of forty years ago.
American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers
Catgut Acoustical Society
Violin Society of America
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