Member Spotlight

The Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis has a treasure of stories found among the musicians. We will regularly highlight a member to learn about their background, playing, and other points of interest.

Bill Scott, Jr, Violin

William (Bill) Scott’s interest in violin started in high school when he was introduced to Martin Beilke who was a violin and bow maker in Minneapolis. On the recommendation of his teacher, he took the violin he got from his sister to have it reworked and varnished. This was his first introduction to the world of violin making. During his last year of studies at St. Olaf College in Music Theory and Composition, Bill started his first violin.

Following graduation, Bill’s violin making was put on a brief hiatus as he worked restoring classic wooden runabouts near Lake Minnetonka and a performance stint in Birmingham, AL
at a private night club. The following winter he finished his first violin and soon after began working at Dahl Violins in downtown Minneapolis. Winning awards at the 1982 Violin Society of America Competition in Salt Lake City provided Bill with an opportunity to begin work at Hans Weisshaar, Inc. in Los Angeles. This experience had a profound effect on his appreciation and understanding of the great classical instruments. He had the honor to work on fine Italian and Tyrolian violins from the 17th and18th century including Stradivari, Stainer and Ruggeri.

Over the past four decades the VSA has played an important role in Bill’s violin making career, earning Hors Concours status in 2006. This is accomplished with at least 3 Gold Medals at different competitions. He was a judge for the VSA competition in and has served on the Oberlin Violin Making Workshop faculty. These experiences, along with the Acoustics Workshops at Oberlin have influenced his work tremendously. Bill serves on the boards of Oberlin Violin Making Foundation and LHCB-USA (Lutheran Health Care Bangladesh) and recently elected to President of the Violin Society of America.

The VSA holds a convention every year, and an international competition every other year. Due to the Pandemic this year, the competition was postponed until 2022 but a Virtual Convention was organized which was a huge success. More than 300 participants from all over the world registered and participated via the Whova.com platform and Zoom. We look forward to another meeting next fall, perhaps a hybrid model.

The Board of Directors of the VSA comprises violin makers, shop owners and dealers, engineers and scientists, musicians of classical and folk violin traditions. Founded in 1973, the Violin Society of America is a non-profit organization created for the purpose of promoting the art and science of making, repairing, and preserving stringed musical instruments and their bows. The Violin Society of America reflects a broad range of interests and concerns of those interested in violins and the art of making instruments and bows of the violin family.

As a maker for over four decades Bill deeply appreciates the privilege of being part of this craft. Aware that technology and physics help us analyze what the masters of the 18th century have done, he realizes these innovations do not replace what they created intuitively. It is hard to imagine what was invented 400 years ago can at this time only be replicated, not truly improved upon.

There truly has been Renaissance of Lutherie, and the VSA has in large part contributed to it. The Oberlin Workshops of Violin Making, Acoustics and Restoration were a direct or indirect result of the VSA. These workshops over the last 4 decades have contributed to an new attitude in the violin making world of open sharing of ideas and techniques. Bill has been fortunate to be part of this world. As president of the Violin Society of America he hope to further this atmosphere and feels honored to be part of this effort.

He has enjoyed playing in the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis since 1975. His wife Susan is a violist and retired teacher, son Michael is an electrical engineer who plays cello and Jordan and Bill play violin.

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