Audience pick: Older violin, sweeter music?

lections of Nagyvary's choosing will be played by Regina Buonavenura from Manilla, The Philippines, in honor of Nagyvary's retirement. Nagyvary enlisted Bounavenura, who owns a violin made by him, to play his own 10-year-old violin.

The scientist said he will consider the comparison concert a success if as many as 40 percent pick his violin as the Stradivarius.

Nagyvary, who in the 1980s began using his knowledge of biochemistry to study the intricacies of the famous violins made in the 18th century by Antonio Stradivari, is not one to duck a challenge. Under the sponsorship of the American Chemical Society two years ago, one of his violins was pitted against an average Stradivarius (some 700 still exist) for a comparison test. Critics at that time could not tell the violins apart, Nagyvary said, though some reported they could detect a slight difference. A CD recording of that event is available for $14 by calling 800-523-5184, Nagyvary said.

This comparison concert will be different for several reasons: the ultimate of Stradivari violins - the $4 million Rochester - will go up for the test; the audience will get to decide which sounds better; and, a film crew will get footage for an upcoming film about Antonio Stradivari that will be broadcast around the world.

To prepare for the event, Nagyvary whipped out a new violin in a record six weeks, allowing that 300-year-old maple from the Himalayan mountains in China had been prepared some six months ago. With the violin fully assembled in mid-July, Nagyvary began vibrating the violin - mostly mechanically - to condition it for playing. A violin has to be played in tune -- every position and every note with the scales and ambitious music -- to be balanced, Nagyvary explained.

"I'm even attempting to fake the age so that even if the screen were removed, the audience would not be able to tell the two violins apart," Nagyvary said.


Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications

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