The Strad magazine in partnership with John & Arthur Beare Violins hosted the first ever StradFest at the Royal Institution, Albemarle St, Mayfair today.  The event consisted of a series of workshops, presentations, seminars and exhibition stands across two floors, with the MU stand positioned outside the entrance to the main theatre.

Several hundred enthusiastic delegates were in attendance, who joined representatives from British and overseas violin companies in making for a focused inaugural show.  The seminars included: ‘The power of stage presence’; ‘What record companies are looking for’; ‘Joining an orchestra’; ‘Creating a digital portfolio’; ‘The importance of social media’; and ‘How to get the best from your instrument.’

I joined Tara Persaud (Chair), Segun Akinola, Charlotte Gardner, Radio 3’s Brian Jackson, and Kathleen Ross in ‘Alternative careers for musicians’ in the Library.  My thanks go to musician/MU fixer Kathleen for recommending that prospective professionals speak to me for informed advice about careers in the industry.

I was delighted to meet GB Olympian Marcus Adam during lunch.  Marcus represented Britain at three Olympics, both as a sprinter and as part of our bobsleigh team.

Stradfest climaxed with a performance of works by Mozart, Rautavaara and Ravel by Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Gordon Back, featuring the Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin. This amazing instrument is in pristine condition, crack free, and has never been repaired or patched. The instrument, crafted by renowned Italian artisan Guiseppe Guarneri in 1741, has been used by Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman. The Vieuxtemps’ current anonymous owner, who purchased the violin in 2012 for a figure approaching $20 million, has provided lifetime use to Anne, one of the world’s top-selling classical performers.

My thanks to event organisers Kirsten Lloyd and Riza Jones for the invitation to be involved.  After the event drew to a close, I crossed the road to Isabel’s and enjoyed a fine dinner before making my way home via Charing Cross.