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Violin ‘older than Canada’ makes Yellowknife appearance

A rare, priceless violin takes to the Yellowknife stage on Saturday in the hands of one of the Canada’s top, young classical musicians.

Yolanda Bruno, named one of the country’s leading classical artists aged under 30 in 2014, performs at NACC tonight before playing in Fort Smith on Monday.

A winner of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s 2013 Standard Life competition, Bruno is a member of Canada’s Instrument Bank project – which loans instruments with a unique heritage to up-and-coming musicians.

Bruno ended up taking possession of a Stradivarius violin dating back to around the year 1700.

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“This instrument is older than our country. It’s really incredible that it’s still a tool I can use to perform and communicate,” she told Moose FM’s Mornings With the Wheel.

“It has a very strong personality – it’s a journey now to discover how to best bring out its qualities.”

Find out more: Yolanda Bruno event details on NACC’s website

Stradivarius violins, built by members of the Italian Stradivari family several centuries ago, are renowned for their quality and can change hands for prices well into seven figures.

Bringing one to Yellowknife is not without its challenges, said Bruno.

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“It’s really stressful when it’s this cold because instruments crack,” she told us. “The strings fall because the temperature changes and flying with it is always a hassle.

“It’s like having a Renoir painting in your backpack with you all the time. So this always comes with me on the plane – it’s always touching my body in some way.”

According to the Canada Council for the Arts, which administers the Instrument Bank program, the violin now played by Bruno was originally owned by a Parisian before reaching one of the founders of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the early 20th Century.

The violin then remained with private collectors until being acquired by the Instrument Bank in 2003.

More details: Instrument Bank bio of the Stradivarius violin

NACC executive director Marie Coderre said: “She has with her a wonderful instrument that is quite unique and precious.

“Every year, we have the privilege to welcome the winner of the Standard Life competition. It’s important to be an advocate of emerging artists.”

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Bruno will play alongside Isabelle David. The two have known each other for seven years since meeting at Montreal’s McGill University.

Yellowknife will be Bruno’s most northerly destination in Canada to date. She told us Banff is the farthest north she had previously travelled.

“I was surprised to wake up this morning and it was still dark,” she admitted.

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