Scots violinist gets out her begging bow for £20,000 instrument

A TALENTED young violinist about to launch her professional career is pleading for a wealthy Scottish backer to help her buy a £20,000 instrument.

Orcadian Catriona Price, 24, graduates from the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London next month – but will have to hand back the £100,000 18th century Italian violin the college has lent her from its collection for the past two years.

“I’d like to be able to produce sounds like that and it’s not possible to do it on an ordinary instrument,” she said. “I can get something really nice for £20,000. I just want to be able to play to a professional standard with it. I want to be able to express myself.”

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In an effort to raise cash for a quality instrument she has written to about 20 Scottish businesses and their bosses. So far she has mostly received polite refusals.

Ms Price is classically trained, but with a love of Scottish fiddling that earned her a place in the finals of the 2012 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year awards.

She grew up playing in Orkney fiddle sessions, before studying at Edinburgh’s St Mary’s Music School and then the Royal Northern College of Music. Her two years at the Royal Academy have been funded by several scholarships and grants.

After graduating in June, she is setting up tours for her fiddle and harp group Twelfth Day, choosing to branch out in a touring band rather than seek a safer job in an orchestra. The group has performed at the St Magnus Music Festival in Orkney.

At the Royal Academy, Ms Price has played a violin made by Carlo Antonio Testore, one of several in its collection. She said: “It’s just the most beautiful instrument I’ve ever played. It’s been a privilege to be able to play it.

“It’s hard to explain, but it’s quite hard to go back to something which isn’t responding in the same way. It’s such a bond you make with an instrument.”

Over the past year, she has been appearing with author Christopher Ward, whose book And the Band Played On tells the story of his grandfather, Scottish violinist Jock Hume, a member of the orchestra on the Titanic.

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At book festivals across the UK, including at the Boswell Book Festival in Ayrshire at the weekend, Ms Price has played on a violin made by Jock Hume’s father Andrew. It was bought at auction for £2,000.

Mr Ward said yesterday he would donate the first £1,000 towards a new instrument.

“Her brilliance is to play really vigorous traditional Scottish folk music and deeply complicated classical pieces,” he said.

Ms Price said the money would allow the purchase of a quality instrument – by a less famous maker than Testore – which would then be loaned to her. Prices of vintage classical instruments have risen steadily, so it would be a good investment, she said.

“It’s like a piece of art. They increase in value as they age. It’s quite a safe market.”

The Scottish violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award at 16, played as a young professional on a rare 1751 Guarneri violin bought by her multi-millionaire father.

Later she was loaned two Stradivarius violins, one worth a reported £6.3 million. .

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