When many people think of Chinese violins, the first thing that comes to mind is student instruments produced in a factory, the quality of which has improved such that a musician can now find quality Chinese student instruments at affordable prices. What may not immediately come to mind is the master violinmakers in China who are hand crafting fine violins, violas, cellos, and bows for advanced and professional players. This is the first in a series of StringBridge Connect posts that will introduce you to some of the best Chinese violinmakers working today.
One of the best known and most influential master violinmakers in China is Zheng Quan. Mr. Zheng began playing violin at age 5 in Shanghai. During the Cultural Revolution in China In 1968, when Mr. Zheng was 18 years old, his violin was taken away and he was forced to live and work in a small village in China. In 1973, as the Cultural Revolution subsided, Mr. Zheng began to play violin again in an ensemble and repaired instruments, which ultimately led to his being the first Chinese student to attend the Cremona International Violinmaking School in 1983. After his training in Italy, he returned to China and founded the first violin making and research center in China at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1988. Since then, he has tirelessly promoted and expanded the development of violinmaking in China, trained countless Chinese violinmakers, and won many awards at international competitions. Mr. Zheng also served as the first judge from China at the 18th VSA International Violinmaking Competition in 2008 and was a judge at the 15th Cremona Triennale Lutherie Competition in 2018. Mr. Zheng is also a member of the prestigious Entente Internationale des Luthiers et Achetiers (EILA).
As part of his mission to promote violinmaking in China, Mr. Zheng founded the China International Violin and Bow Making Competition and has organized and chaired the jury for all four competitions to date. At the 4th China International Violin and Bow Making Competition in 2019, the Violin Society of America (VSA) honored Mr. Zheng for his commitment to excellence in violinmaking.