Michael Darnton’s interest in stringed instruments of the violin family began in the sixth grade, when he took up the cello and found himself more interested in the instrument itself than in playing it. His first formal training in instrument making and restoration was at Bein & Fushi Rare Violins, Inc. in Chicago. Thanks to his previous background in photography, for 15 years he also served as Bein & Fushi photographer, traveling all over the world to photograph literally thousands of masterpieces of violin making for the firm’s publications. The opportunity to handle and photograph so many of the world’s most recognized instruments greatly influenced his own development as a violin maker.
Mr. Darnton later moved nearby to the violin making workshop of William Harris Lee & Co., building 50 of his own instruments and setting up hundreds of shop instruments. He left WH Lee to open his own workshop, and eventually joined musicians and dealers Stefan and Julian Hersh in launching Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins, located in Chicago’s Loop. There, he runs the workshop, doing restorations and setups and continuing to build his own instruments.
In addition, over the years Mr. Darnton has written numerous articles about violin making, has presented at conferences, and has been an active participant in internet forums. He greatly enjoys teaching a violin making workshop each summer at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Visit website
Lynn Armour Hannings
The art of bowmaking is one that Lynn Armour Hannings has long cherished. She states, “I was blessed with the greatest of teachers in my professional careers as musician and bowmaker. Their talents, professional ethics, enthusiasm and passion for music, art and sharing knowledge have inspired me to teach.”
As a professional musician, Ms. Hannings brings to her work a great understanding of the essential aspects of playability to create bows that are both responsive and comfortable to play. She has been making fine bows for three decades and is proud to be a respected bow maker in the French tradition. She originally studied with John Roskoski and William Salchow of New York. Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and the Annette Kade Fellowship, she spent a year studying in Paris with Bernard Millant, the world-renowned authority on French bow making. She is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d’Art.
Lynn Hannings is the 2011 recipient of the Special Recognition Award for Lutherie from the International Society of Bassists.
Ms. Hannings teaches bow rehair and bow making for historical preservation at universities in the United States. Visit website
George Rubino started making bows in 1974 and has been in the forefront of American bow making for many years. His interest in the French tradition and quest for knowledge has helped him to make bows that are aesthetically fine and enable the musician to produce everything the music asks. Mr. Rubino studied bowmaking with William Salchow and was his teaching assistant at the University of New Hampshire Violin Craftsmanship Institute for many years before being appointed as a bowmaking instructor at the Institute in 1988. He has given lectures and conducted workshops on bowmaking and bow playability in North America, Europe, and Australia.
Mr. Rubino is also a musician and music teacher. He has been double bass instructor at Bates College since 1980 and was double bass instructor at Dartmouth College from 1978 to 2001. He has been with the Portland (Maine) Symphony since 1963, and has performed at various chamber music festivals as well. Visit website
Jim Brown entered the profession of violin making as a trained musician with a degree in vocal music and a long list of credits as a professional performer. He began making instruments in the 1980’s, working first on classical guitars. Soon afterward, he apprenticed with Riverside maker Ruth Esther Evans in violin and cello making. (Mrs. Evans, an accomplished violin maker, was a student of Mario Frosali, the respected Los Angeles maker who was encouraged to come to this country by Simone Sacconi, with whom he worked side by side at the famous Wurlitzer shop in New York.) Mr. Brown opened his own violin shop in Claremont in 1997. He runs the shop with his wife Debbie and their daughter Lydia and continues to build violins, violas and cellos. His prize-winning instruments have led to many commissions for new instruments.
Mr. Brown is a member of the Violin Society of America and is a member and past president of the Southern California Association of Violin Makers, one of the oldest violin societies in the country. Since 2006, he has run a very well-received summer workshop for violin makers of all levels, with bow making added in 2009. As a sideline, Mr. Brown continues to sing and act professionally, performing on stage and in concert around the southland. Visit website