Violoncello da Spalla
Violoncello da Spalla Podcast
We end 2023 launching our podcast!

We end 2023 launching our podcast!

Raise your glasses for a gorgeous 2024!

Hallo! This is the first episode of the Violoncello da Spalla podcast, broadcasted from Italy by Daniela Gaidano and Alessandro Visintini. We are two Italian luthiers specialized in Violoncello da Spalla. How does it come that we make Violoncello da Spalla? It came from a totally unexpected passion. Violoncello da Spalla brings together our love for violin making, the excitement of research and the pleasure of meeting top-level artists. Do we make also violins, violas and “normal” cellos? Yes, we do, but this is a podcast about Violoncello da Spalla, so this is what we’ll be talking about.

Will this be a serie or an only episode? We’re not sure yet. Please leave us comments and tell us if you prefer to read our newsletter or to listen to it. Our idea is to use this space mainly to share music played with our instruments.

While recording this podcast, I’m already preparing the dinner for New Year’s Eve. I soaked the lentils into fresh water and started to slowly cook the pig trotter on the wood-burning stove. We will have the usual round of appetizers (usual for a festive meal), which are olives, marinated salmon, pickles like artichokes, onions and mushrooms, and salami. Then I will try to cook a Scottish recipe:  the “Cullen skink”, a soup with milk, smoked fish, potatoes and turnips. But I’ll do it with Italian ingredients. If that goes wrong or someone won’t like it, I will also prepare our traditional Italian meal: the already mentioned trotter, which is a leg of a pig stuffed with pork sausage, that has to be cooked for 3 hours today and another one tomorrow, and it’s served with lentils and mashed potatoes.

End of the year, it’s time to look back and express our gratitude for what, after all, has been a sparkly year. During carnival school break, we went on a road trip to Leipzig museum to see the Arcangioli Violoncello da Spalla and the Klinger small cello and meet with director Veit Heller, then to Lübeck to measure again the original Violoncello da Spalla by Johann Wagner and compare it with the one that we made 3 years ago. From there, we went to Markneukirchen Musical Instruments Museum, where they have no less than 6 (maybe more) original cellos da spalla or pomposas. We had a great time there with director Kim Grote and Mario, discussing the use of viola pomposa after Bach’s time.

Arriving home, we received the visit of Alberto Vitolo, a violinist from Naples now living in Rome, who purchased Alessandro’s Violoncello da Spalla. He is now totally in love with it because it perfectly blends his passion for research with performing opportunities. He is passionate about the technique of this instrument and its possibilities, playing repertoire not only from the Baroque era but also romantic pages.

Then we went to London, to get in touch with the British Violin Making Association. It was our first trip to London, so we had a nice holiday too.

In the spring, we met with our friend Eric Aceto, a Violoncello da Spalla maker from the state of New York, from the Finger Lakes, but of Italian origins. His surname, in Italian pronounced Aceto, means vinegar. It was a short but intense meeting, we went hunting for wood in Cremona, and we shared tips and tricks and anecdotes.

In May we had great luck: we could rent a flat only 80 meters from our home, and move there our workshop! So finally we had a big space, with a lot of light, a breathtaking view, with our benches and all our tools and woods! This is in Meltina, a small town in South Tyrol, in Italian Alto Adige. It is half an hour's drive from Bolzano, which now has an airport with regular flights to London Stansted, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen and other European destinations.

In June, we left for a three-week road trip to the UK. We first went to Surrey to a set-up course hosted by the British Violin Making Association, and then we drove up to Scotland to the lower highlands. We fell in love with the place. We loved the landscapes, the people,  and the food! This is why tomorrow I’ll try to cook the Cullen skink!

During this trip, we met Wenhan Yang, currently the viola leader of the BBC Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, and he decided to buy my Violoncello da Spalla. He already gave recitals with Bach’s suites in Beijing, and he has a wonderful project with his wife, who is a soprano singer. You heard him playing at the beginning of this podcast. I’m so excited to be part of this project with my instrument because I particularly love this music!

In August, we kept a whole month free to move in and organize the new workshop, but unfortunately, my mom broke a heel, and later, I also had a surgery. We both recovered well, but all in all, it was two months off from work. And, after that, we took a short but much-needed holiday at the seaside in Sardinia. It is a wonderful place. We were still swimming on the 29th of October!

Then, back at work!

I now have two Violoncello da Spalla on the bench, and Alessandro is making a normal-sized cello.

Alessandro and I also give judo and Karate classes here in Meltina, he’s a judo teacher and I’m a karate teacher. At the end of this year, he brilliantly passed his examination for black belt fifth Dan, which is almost the higher level you can get with an exam here in Italy. I’m so proud of him!

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As a final thanks note, let me mention two groups which are really game changers in our industry: women in Lutherie, which is an organization supporting women at bench. They have a Facebook group where one can ask for suggestions of any kind, not only working tips, or simply share and be there in a positive environment. The second is a smaller community by now, but also very nice and engaging: it is raised by Sofia Vettori, the renowned Italian violin maker, and is a place where we meet every week and we can talk of anything Lutherie. These kinds of supportive projects are important when one is doing a job like this, which could easily become very lonely. Instead, being part of an engaging community makes it a joy!

The end of the year is also the time for plans: we do not make precise plans because we try to keep doors open for coming opportunities. However, in 2024, we will probably have a short trip to the US involving some Violoncello da Spalla presentations and maybe a longer trip to Japan to give a few gut-strings lectures (and maybe a short holiday attached). We also always have in mind to go to Brussels to meet some wonderful da Spalla people and to Saxony and the north of Germany for some more research.

Our Substack Newsletter will probably see a change in timing because I need more time for making and deliver a quality newsletter requires time. It takes me almost one full day to write one, because it involves research and drawing, and editing… so I think I will move it to one every ten days.

Our days now are filled with excitement for the many projects on the go involving not only our Violoncello da Spalla but also serious research, and bringing as a result musical performances of a high artistic level.

We already shared in our newsletter the beginning of the journey of Alberto and that of Kim Min, who bought my Violoncello da Spalla in 2022, and I can’t wait to share that of Wenhan. But there are others cooking, even if I cannot share names and details now.

We feel blessed to be able to meet artists like this through our job. Alessandro and I are both former professional musicians, and one could think it’s sad to leave that musicianship behind. Instead, the hours that we daily employed practising are now into making, and our da spalla cellos are allowing beautiful musical projects to take shape.

The people we meet through our job and our researches, people animated by such sincere enthusiasm and love for music and research, are gifting us with daily motivation and excitement.

So thank you, for allowing us to be part of your artistic lives and for sharing your enthusiasm with us, we wish you all a great, florid new year.

Violoncello da Spalla
Violoncello da Spalla Podcast
Not only classical music: from research to pure fun, through early music, jazz, pop and rock! Musical instruments, repertoire, accessories, technique, people... and everything about Violoncello da Spalla!