Marko Pennanen Wins Gold at the 2009 Triennale Competition
Finn takes top honors of the 'Olympics' of violin-making
It’s the Olympics of violin making. The Triennial International Competition of Stringed Instrument Making, commonly known as the Triennale, is the most visible, most prestigious contest of them all. The competition—held every three years in conjunction with the Liuteria Festival in Cremona, Italy—is fierce and stakes are high: a win puts a maker’s name firmly into the top tier internationally and, perhaps more importantly, can lead to a steady stream of commissions.
Announced October 1, this year’s coveted gold medal for violin went to Finnish violin maker Marko Pennanen; Canadian luthier Raymond Schryer placed second; and third prize was shared by Nicholas Gooch, a British violin maker working in Germany, and Kelvin Scott of the United States. In the viola category, Antoine Cauche, of France, won the gold medal; Nicholas Gooch won the silver; and Kim Okkyum, of South Korea, the bronze. In the cello category, Silvio Levaggi of Cremona won the gold medal; Peter Goodfellow, of Australia, won silver; and Michael Stürzenhofecker, of Germany, won bronze. No gold medal was awarded for double bass, but Guido Mariotto, of Italy, earned the silver medal and Patrick Charton, of France, won the bronze.
Commenting on Pennanen’s winning violin, Goodfellow said, “The judges couldn’t attribute it to any particular school or country and all said it stood out as being different from all the other 205-plus violins. His violin cleaned up on the workmanship [judging] and left them for dead in the acoustic scoring. For me, as a modern maker, his work represents a freshness of approach, originality, and individuality based on a firm classical base. For me, that is the future of new making.”
Winning instruments must earn top marks for both tone and workmanship from two groups of judges—five musicians and five makers. “At the Triennale, you must give one to ten points to each of four criteria: perfection, style, varnish, and setup,” explains workmanship judge Jan Špidlen of the Czech Republic, adding that repeating the process 380 times, once for each entry, is exhausting. “I think about 10 percent were really nice, 80 percent okay, and 10 percent bad. We went over the best ones in each category again just to make sure. The musicians [on the judging panel] do pretty much the same for tone.”