Daniel Pearl Memorial Quartet Nears Completion
What began as a New England luthier memorializing a slain New York journalist has grown massively in the nine years since donating a violin to a foundation. And now, thanks to generous donations, a full quartet of instruments built by violin maker Jonathan Cooper is almost complete.
Inspired by this initial violin and the subsequent grant program, which was named for the journalist who was also an avid amateur violinist and fiddler, several other generous donors have stepped up. With the impending completion of a viola, the Daniel Pearl Memorial Quartet is nearing completion. The first violin is based on a 1730s Guarneri del Gesù. A second fiddle joined it in ’05, thanks to an anonymous donation. The pair grew to a trio last year, thanks to cellist Ann Swanson, who donated her Cooper cello, which is one of Cooper’s designs, melding a Strad-style scroll and a body styled from a Venetian instrument.
Moved by last year’s cello presentation, the head of the Niederhoffer Foundation stepped forward and commissioned a viola on the spot. Influenced by 16th-century Brescian violas, Cooper built a 15 3/4-inch viola with high arches, which he feels helps express the viola’s earthiness. It was made with an Italian spruce top and a two-piece poplar back, and should be ready for a promising violist next summer.
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