It was the summer of 1981. I was a student in classical guitar performance and composition.
One morning, as I was driving my first car through California’s burnt hills, the silvery sound of Hopkinson Smith’s lute playing poured from the speakers filling the air as a refreshing breeze.
This was my first encounter with the lute and I was love struck.
Parallel interests in poetry and sculpture, along with repeated sojourns in Europe, led me to a violin maker’s shop in France, where I acquired the love and skill of string instrument making and my career as a luthier was decided.
Back in the United States, I built and restored violins for a number of years, while privately pursuing lute playing. My dissatisfaction with my first lute motivated me to start building my own instruments. Encouragement and advice from such prominent figures as Pat O’Brien, Hopkinson Smith, Edin Karamazov, Olav Chris Henriksen led to my becoming a full-time lute maker.
In the three decades since, my instruments have been played and recorded around the world by noteworthy lute performers such as Evangelina Mascardi, Edin Karamazov, Yasunori Imamura, Ariel Abramovich, Miguel Serdoura, Miguel de Olasso, Floris de Ricker, Olav Chris Henriksen, Daniel Swanberg, Sting, and many others.
I believe lute making is a living craft that has been evolving continuously over the centuries, driven by ever changing styles and by performers’ new demands. While respecting historical building techniques and materials, I listen closely to the wishes of today’s musicians, and to their requests of various qualities of timbre - a brighter or mellower tone, etc.
After all these years, with every new instrument I build, I still search for the “ideal” lute sound (if there can be such a thing) that will harmoniously balance focus, clarity, character, expressiveness, and power.
Here is a list of professional musicians who have commissioned instruments from me: Many of them have used my instruments for solo or group recordings. (alphabetical) Ariel Abramovich Hana Alivodic Robert Barto Michele Carecca Albert Cofrin Rosario Conte Xavier Diaz Olav Chris Henriksen Dieter Hennings Grant Herreid Dick Hoban Yasunori Imamura Mark Johnstone Edin Karamazov Evangelina Mascardi Dominic Miller Miguel de Olaso Eric Redlinger Paul Schipper John Schneiderman Richard Stone Daniel Swenberg Seth Warner Miguel Ysrael Ivano Zaneghi William Zitto And, of course, the list goes on with those enthusiastic and talented musicians who found life difficult, if not unbearable, without the companionship of a good lute.