‘Holmes is where the heart is for Sherlock violin’
July 1, 2010
After this Friday’s RSNO season finale performance in Edinburgh, featuring Elgar’s Cello Concerto with star soloist Natalie Clein, playing the 1777 “Simpson” Guadagnini (also in Aberdeen and Glasgow), the next night at the Usher Hall partners another female string prodigy with another instrument of distinction.
The Sherlock Violin was made last year by Edinburgh luthier Steve Burnett, using centuries-old Italian methods, from the wood of a 170-year-old sycamore which grew in the garden of Arthur Conan Doyle’s childhood home. When the tree was condemned due to root-rot, the special-needs school which now occupies the Liberton property commissioned Burnett to craft a commemorative link to the author’s most famous creation, who often played the violin while pondering difficult cases.
It will be played this weekend by the acclaimed Armenian violinist Ani Batikian, the youngest-ever student at her homeland’s Yerevan State Conservatoire, where she enrolled aged 15, and now a Junior Fellow at the RSAMD in Glasgow. Elgar, as it happens, is again on the bill, with three of his shorter pieces featuring alongside works by Vivaldi, Bartók, Gershwin and Jay Ungar, plus the world premiere of Elsie and Frances by the Scottish composer James Clapperton – named after the two girls responsible for the 1920 Cottingley Fairies hoax, in which Conan Doyle remained a believer until his death. Interspersed with the music will be short dramatic excerpts adapted from the Holmes stories, performed by leading Scottish actor and storyteller Mike Maran.