Angus Barbary on playing his great-great grandfather’s violin

Angus Barbary on playing his great-great grandfather’s violin


[Plays ‘The Duke of Leinster’ traditional Irish reel on violin] ANGUS BARBARY: Playing the violin made me feel like I’m doing the right thing with my life. I think creativity in music is one of the things that helps me identify myself so to know that I have a connection to not only myself, but former family members, has kind of put it into place a little bit more and I feel very settled because of that. I wanted to come here to the Museum for a few reasons, one of them being that I wanted to feel a connection to an ancestor of mine. [Music ends] My name is Angus Barbary. I’ve come from Adelaide and I’ve come to play my great-great-grandfather’s violin. I think Joseph Miers is an enigmatic character. He grew up in Avoca, Victoria, and decided to move to Adelaide. There’s a great photograph of Joseph Miers standing in his shop in Wayville and he’s got a couple of certificates showing his expertise and also a couple of violins that have been made by him. It would be nice to see violins in collections at museums played in concert. I think Joseph Miers himself was a refurbisher of old violins and back in those days they didn’t they didn’t keep them away from being played. They were still used and many violins nowadays much older than the one that Joseph Miers here made are still in concert and are prized possessions because their tone has developed over hundreds of years and that’s a quality and so to hear them played in person, in recording, would be I think a great feature for any musician or any institution that keeps a violin. [Plays ‘Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100 3rd movement’, Antonín Dvořák]. The violin’s tone is amazing, it’s exactly the the kind of tone that I personally like. Joe’s violin is very warm and yet it projects very well which is a very big surprise considering it hasn’t been played for such a long time. Normally instruments, particularly wooden ones and anything made out of biotic materials, will degrade over time quite a bit and the wood shrinks and moves and becomes less acoustically accommodating, so to come in and play it and hear that it actually has a very rich tone … it was very fortuitous. When I’m restoring violins or bows I feel relaxed; it’s a methodical way of of working so I I like the repetition involved in cutting the hairs or in reapplying a bridge or in setting a sound post. It’s methodical as well but it’s also a little bit nostalgic because it’s a very old-fashioned profession. A lot of violin making hasn’t been mechanised and it hasn’t been streamlined and most instruments around the world are still handmade. [Plays Siobhan O’Donnell’s ‘Traditional Irish Reel’] It’s not only a physical characteristic that makes playing old violins good for them. There’s also I think a moral reasoning behind playing old instruments and being a Museum of social history I think music should be incorporated in our social history. The live presence of music should be part of humanity and it should be celebrated.

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