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Jan van der Elst

Dordrecht (The Netherlands)
The importance of the middle voice as an integrating force in music is commonly recognised. It is a crucial but yet often introverted voice. The impact of the viola is often noticed most when, for whatever reason, its voice temporarily falls silent. The ensemble suddenly sounds weak and incoherent. Everyone present, except perhaps for a first violin, will long for the return of the friendly bronze sound.
The technical demands on the viola have increased significantly over time. The sonorous middle voice must nowadays also be able to make a big sound in order to draw attention. As a result, violas are currently made in a multitude of sizes and innovative shapes, leading to a great variety of timbres.

The Dordrecht-based luthier Jan van der Elst has taken a particular interest in the viola and violists, having developed and built violas for more than 20 years. During IVC2018, Jan will engage with three colleagues to build a viola from scratch in 5 days, live for all to see!

Read the interview with Jan van der Elst on the Dutch Viola Society website! (January 2017).