Instrument auctioneers Amati are preparing for their annual exhibition in London. Co-director Sarah Buchanan tells IAM why she decided to create the event three years ago, and what stringed surprises are in store for those attending.
Our offices are a hive of activity this month as we prepare for The Amati Exhibition at the Langham Hotel in London on 23 and 24 October: it’s the place to be if you have any involvement with stringed instruments and classical music.
The exhibition showcases the very best antique and contemporary instruments and bows currently on the market. Now in its fourth year, it’s a unique opportunity to meet many of the world’s leading dealerships, contemporary makers and restorers, all within the beautiful surroundings of the Langham Hotel’s Grand Ballroom.
We also invite the British Violin Making Association, the Newark School of Violin Making and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Dance to exhibit alongside leading music and instrument charities. Visitors to the exhibition – it’s open to the public – can browse, try instruments and chat to the sellers and makers. If you are looking to purchase an instrument or bow, this is the place to come.
Twice a year in the spring and autumn, string buyers assemble in London for the specialist string auctions but until The Amati Exhibition was launched in October 2013 there was no encompassing event. I decided that the time had come to have one big open setting where all the instruments could be exhibited, tried and traded, and it’s gone from strength to strength: we had12 exhibitors in 2013 and this year we have 32.
Our exhibitors enjoy catching up with friends, clients and generally coming together as a professional body. As for the visitors, they get to immerse themselves in the world of strings. There are exceptional and rare instruments on display and even if they are above your budget – they are certainly above mine – it’s a treat to see them up close.
We also bring in top performers to play some of the amazing instruments. The launch party in 2013 saw Michael Petrov playing the 1689 Antonio Stradivari ‘Archinto’ cello and Jack Liebeck playing the ‘David’ Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesù’, 1735.
As with any new idea, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. This year we’re trying to introduce a more relaxed feel, as past editions felt a bit too formal. To achieve this we’re having a drinks reception rather than a concert, with Trio Isimsiz performing Dvořák’s Piano Trio in F minor and the last movement of Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor.
Another new addition is an ‘Open Stage’ session, where musicians from YCAT (Young Classical Artists Trust) and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Dance will perform with instruments chosen from the exhibitor’s tables. ‘These opportunities for emerging artists are invaluable,’ commented YCAT chief executive and artistic director Alasdair Tait. ‘It’s thrilling that they have this opportunity to collaborate with Amati – we’re very excited to be part of the programme.’
Entrance to the exhibition is free and children are especially welcome – we want our events to be as accessible as possible. It’s a spectacle to see so many rare and valuable instruments in one place but ones you get to try as well makes for a memorable day out.
The Amati Exhibition runs from 23-24 October. For more information and to register visit the Amati website.