Houston is home to many creative personalities doing cutting-edge work. Some are highly visible while others, well, the scope of their work keeps them underground and unknown to the masses.
Working with English sycamore, Testore’s violins were known for their superb sound and gorgeous tonal qualities but were a little physically rough. Barnes affectionally refers to them as the “drunken masters.”
Barnes’ instruments have a reputation of having a powerful sound while being quite responsive. For Mercury Baroque, the unique opportunity to shape the instrument’s sound translates in having the ability to create a distinct homogenous and unified aesthetic for their ensemble.
How long will the complete project take?
There are a lot of unknowns working with natural materials. But a prototype already exists and is in the hands of Jonathan Godfrey, Mercury Baroque's concertmaster. You can become a Violin Parent with a contribution of $11,000 including an acknowledgement visible through one of the violins f-holes, a private performance by Godfrey and a private behind-the-scenes tour of the violin shop.
I had a chance to visit Dorian Barnes' studio, where he walked me through the process of making a violin. Here's the video. To see a photo essay of the creation of the hand-crafted instrument from start to finish, click here.