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Michael Phoenix Violins

Authentic traditional maker, repairer and restorer of violins, violas, cellos and bows - specialist in set up and fine adjustment for improved sound and playability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tel: 07977 263617
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November 22nd, 2013

STRADIVARI  Violin Arrives in the Bluecoat Workshop !!!

On Friday 22nd November the world renowned Norwegian solo violinist Vilde Frang brought the Stradivari 'Engleman' 1709  violin to the Bluecoat for some TLC from resident luthier Michael Phoenix at his violin studio; both were later invited on to Linda McDermott's 'Late Night Live' programme at BBC Radio Merseyside.

The violin was made in the greatest Italian maker Antoni Stradivari’s golden period and is valued at around £10 million. “It makes me quite humbled to think about it. I am just a small part of this instrument’s life. And it will continue to be played by so many violinists after I am gone,” said Vilde, on Linda McDermott's BBC show that night, “If I were to think about how valuable it is, it would completely overwhelm me so I have to distance myself from that – otherwise you become completely paranoid with taking care and how to treat it.”

Michael received the news of Vilde’s surprise visit via the Royal Liverpool Phillharmonic when they telephoned him early Friday afternoon.

He said, “I fully expected to see a violin by the great French maker and copyist Jean Baptiste Vuillaume which would have been a joy, but when Vilde opened the case and revealed the Stradivari ‘Engleman’ 1709 ... that was something special ! "

He added “Vilde has only recently taken charge of the instrument which is actually seven years older than the Bluecoat - Liverpool’s oldest building in the city centre. The craftsmanship of the violin is absolutely superb, as one would expect … and the shape is just so perfectly balanced. It was a real treat to have one of Strad’s finest in the workshop on St. Cecilia's day (patron saint of music) … and of course a thrill to meet the gorgeous and talented Vilde Frang !


When the instrument was returned to its owner after some TLC, Vilde was very pleased with the skilled luthier’s work, later joking on radio, “Michael has made it very clean and shiny – I’ll have to wear sunglasses!”

Vilde Frang performed later that week on Sunday 24th at the Liverpool Phillharmonic Hall.












Aug 12th until Aug 29th, 2013
Phoenix violin in the 'Music on Merseyside' Exhibition at the Liverpool Academy of Arts
Michael was commissioned to display an example of his work at the Liverpool Academy of Arts in Seel Street, Liverpool 1 for the 'Music of Merseyside' exhibition.
A copy of Stradivari's "Viotti" 1709 '(in-the-white') is surrounded by wood shavings and some of the specialist tools used in the construction of this instrument which was made in 2010 for Michael's youngest daughter.
Michael's violin stands under the watchful gaze of a few of Liverpool's famous musical sons ... John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney and 
Billy Fury.
 June 13th, 2013 - August 11th, 2013 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 

This summer, the Ashmolean will open a special exhibition celebrating the life and work of Antonio Stradivari. For the first time ever in the UK, the Ashmolean will bring together 21 of Stradivari’s most important, well-preserved instruments to showcase the brilliance of his craft, including 11 works from his Golden Period.

Dr Jon Whiteley, Senior Assistant Keeper of Western Art and Curator of the exhibition, says: "The Ashmolean is thrilled and honoured to be holding this exhibition, and we are extremely grateful to the institutions and private owners who have generously lent their instruments. To bring together so many rare and important violins – by the greatest maker of all time – is an extraordinary event and one which I hope our many visitors will enjoy."


June 28th, 2013 - Friday 7:30 pm at the Bluecoat ... Phoenix Violins presents

The Liverpool String Quartet concert ... turn up the heat ... It's Tango Time


The Liverpool String Quartet will be devoting this programme to the incisive, exciting, heady and provocative rhythms of the Tango.

Dancers in full costume will illustrate the power, energy and breathless electricity that the Latin beat pulsates between them.


At the climax of the concert the audience will be given a quick ‘guide to’ and then invited to join in the dancing !

It’ll be a hoot

Tickets £8 ( to book online or ring box office 0151 702 5324 )


At 6 pm the supemely talented 'Under the Duvet Club' wordsmiths who feature on BBC Radio Merseyside's Linda McDermott - Late Night Live Show (Mon - Fri 10 pm to 1 am) will be reading their own poems about the Tango and dance in general in the bistro area of the Bluecoat as a warm-up to the concert.


If you would like to write for the concert please contact Michael on tel. 07977 263617 or at
June 21st, 2013 - Friday 7:30 pm at the Bluecoat ... Phoenix Violins presents
The Katona Twins concert
The Katona Twins – the worlds best classical guitar duo playing a phenomenal cross-over programme of BACH to QUEEN (Bohemian Rhapsody)
as heard on BBC Radio Merseyside Linda Mac’s ‘Late Night Live’

Ticket price only £10 ( please book to avoid disappointment on or ring 0151 702 5324 )

Hailed as the greatest guitar duo in the world, the twins will be playing a programme of classical to modern – Bach to Queen !

This year alone they are playing in Thailand, UK, Germany, N. Ireland, Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Czech Republic, USA, Vietnam, Scotland, Serbia ... oh and the Bluecoat !

“The brilliant Katona Twins … Formidable virtuoso technique, their performances could hardly be bettered for charm, zest, wit and colouristic flair.” Daily Telegraph


At 6 pm the supemely talented 'Under the Duvet Club' wordsmiths who feature on BBC Radio Merseyside's Linda McDermott - Late Night Live Show (Mon - Fri 10 pm to 1 am) will be reading their own poems about guitar and music in general in the bistro area of the Bluecoat as a warm-up to the concert.


If you would like to write for the concert please contact Michael on tel. 07977 263617 or at

March 29th, 2013 - Good Friday 2:30 pm at the Bluecoat ... Phoenix Violins presents
Liverpool String Quartet concert - Last Seven Words of Christ (Haydn)  and Mozart (TBA)
Based on the last seven words that Jesus said when he was on the cross. The quartet version is often performed with a narrator reading the following sections from the bible before each of the seven movements:
1. FORGIVENESS  -  Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:43)
2. SALVATION  -  Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
3. RELATIONSHIP  -  Woman, behold your son:behold your mother (John 19:26-7)
4. ABANDONMENT  -  My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew27:46 & Mark 15:34)
5. DISTRESS  -  I thirst (John 19:28)
6. TRIUMPH  -  It is finished (John 19:30)
7. REUNION  -  Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)
Some quartets have chosen to use different readings to represent these themes e.g. poems by John Donne and George Herbert, and the Brentano String quartet commissioned Mark Strand to write for it - his poem "Poem After the Last Seven Words”.
The LSQ are asking the supemely talented 'Under the Duvet Club' wordsmiths who feature on BBC Radio Merseyside's Linda McDermott - Late Night Live Show (Mon - Fri 10 pm to 1 am)  to interpret these words/pieces entirely in their own way and write their own poem(s) to be read at the concert by the poet themselves or by the narrator, instead of the original last words.
If you would like to write for the concert please contact Michael on tel. 07977 263617 or at   and just say which movement(s) you'd like to write for .... many thanks .... Michael.
... Coming soon

February 22, 2013
BBC2 'Flog It - Trade Secrets Appearance'  
On Friday 22nd February on BBC2 at 6:30 pm the BBC transmitted a special 'Trade Secrets' feature about violin restoration and the making processes at the workshops of Michael Phoenix Violins.
Antiques expert Adam Partridge helped Michael peg bush a viola in the woodland workshop and hollow out a violin front at the Blucoat workshop. Repeats of this programme are scheduled.

February 8, 2013
BBC Radio Merseyside 'Children in Need' UTDC Concert 
BBC Radio Merseyside in Partnership with Michael Phoenix Violins, The Liverpool String Quartet and The Bluecoat proudly present a concert of musical favourites from stage, screen and the classics.
It includes an exciting programme from the magnificent Liverpool String Quartet  interlaced with popular pieces from 5 guests artists.
Hosted by BBC presenter and local favourite Linda McDermott (Late Night Live).
Pre-concert a violin making, playing and acoustic appreciation masterclass will be given by Michael Phoenix, the luthier in residence at the Bluecoat.
The proceeds of the concert, which was a sell-out within 72 hours, will be donated to the charity ' Children in Need'.
... Coming soon

December 19, 2012
BBC film the making and restoration process
The BBC are scheduled to film some violin restoration and making processes at the workshops of Michael Phoenix Violins as part of an hour long special about the 'secret passions' of their BBC2 antiques experts.                    
 ... Coming soon

December 16, 2012
Liverpool String Quartet Christmas concert 2012 details
The LSQ perform a Traditional Christmas Concert at the Bluecoat on Sunday 16th December at 2:30 pm.
The programme will consist of popular Christmas music, including works by Corelli, John Rutter and Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air from the Snowman.
Free mince pies and tea following the concert so bring family and friends!
Ticket Price: £5
Children under 16 go FREE
November 20, 2012
Violin Making Lecture in Catalonia at the Institut Pere Martell, Tarragona
On November 20th 2012 Michael was invited to host a violin making master class lecture at The Institu Pere Martell, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain.
The master class included a practical hands on workshop covering the processes of violin making, incl. varnish making, rib bending, plate thicknessing and glueing and a lecture about the origins and history of the violin, its makers, and in particular the actual violin making techniques and processes of the great Cremonese masters of the 17th and 18th centuries.
"The wood working students at Institu Pere Martell range from 16 - 24 and upwards and I was most impressed by their maturity and their eagerness and willingness to learn and be involved in the hands on practicals.
Of course I don't speak Catalan but I did deliver an opening speech in the language with much phonetic help from lecturer and European manager of the Liverpool String Quartet, Jordi Borras ... I think the effort, if not the pronunciation, was appreciated.  However, the language barrier was overcome with superb understanding and paraphrasing from the beautiful Estafania Pedros (English Dept.) who handled the 'Scouse' to English to Catalonian translation admirably."
Michael travelled to Catalonia alongside the famous Liverpool String Quartet who where performing a 10 concert  tour of the region with guest clarinetist Carles Pertegaz , taking in Tarragona, Barcelona, Mont Serrat Monastery and Pamplona Cathedral and spent three days with the LSQ on tour.
The Liverpool String Quartet provided a brilliant practical demonstration of the sound of the string family and played a number of pieces for the lecturers and students, not just the woodworkers, who had gravited to the huge workshops to hear the instruments in this unique setting. The LSQ, well aware they were also representing Liverpool, threw in a couple of well appreciated Beatles numbers for good measure.
Michael said " Yes, touring with the LSQ was everything I thought it would be ... smashing up hotel rooms and late night drinking sessions  ... that's why they sent me home after three days! ... seriously, it was a great experience travelling out with the LSQ on tour and observing how ultra professional and dedicated they are in their approach to their work.
What struck me is that a concert audience may get the impression that the musicians just turn up and play, but the reality is that their day is carefully planned around rehearsal sessions, resting and taking on fuel, like athletes, building up to the evening and ensuring they are at their very peak when they give their performance. After the performance they are spent, and the cycle begins again, travelling to the next location immediately after the concert to ensure they are fresh to start again the next day ... I was very very impressed!
The whole experience was very special and I would like to pay particular thanks to Kate, Sarah, Dani and Mr Nicolas Byrne from the Liverpool String Quartet; to manager Jordi Borras for his vision and friendship which made the visit possible; to sound engineer Daniel Albero for the guided tour of Tarregona, my first taste of wild cactus fruit and his infectious acoustics 'lectures',  and of course a special thank you to Mr Angel M. Rodriguez (director) and all his staff and students at the Institu Pere Martell for making me most welcome.
... I hope to see you again some time!"

October 26, 2012
Launch of the 'Scouservarius Legacy Project'
Registration of the Liverpool Quartet Trust Foundation
With the trustees signatures now on the Deed the Liverpool Quartet Trust Foundation is close to full registration.
It is intended that the Trust take ownership, responsibility for the day to day management of the instruments and the decision making with regard to allocating funds generated by the hire of the instruments for recording, performance and exhibition worldwide for their forseeable lifetime (400 years plus).
The income will be used to support and sustain musical education projects throughout Merseyside.
The objects of the Trust are as follows:

1.                       To introduce, promote, maintain, improve and advance public education and extend public knowledge of all aspects of the arts, culture and craftsmanship especially musical string instrument appreciation, making, playing and performance throughout musical genres and world cultures.


2.                         The advancement of equality, diversity and harmony amongst people from differing social and ethnic backgrounds and the relief of those in need, by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship, exclusion or other disadvantage through craftsmanship and the arts.  


3.                        Such other charitable purposes as the trustees shall from time to time determine.



    .... coming soon.

October 13,2012
BVMA Treasurer Appointment
This year the Brirtish Violin Making Association held their AGM at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Members Ian Greig, Hubert de Launay, Bonghyun Yang and Tim Baker were voted on to the committee with Tim Cogger moving to Secretary and Michael Phoenix becoming Treasurer.
The AGM was held on a BVMA  study day where members held and examined the oldest violins and violas in the world from the Amati dynasty, namely the Andreas Amati 1564, violins and violas of the Brothers Amati and the Nicolo Amati 'Alard' 1649.   ... Coming soon

July 1, 2012
Liverpool String Quartet Summer concert 2012 details
... Coming soon

September 18, 2011
British Violin Making Association (BVMA) Management Committee Appointment
Michael Phoenix has been voted to the management committee of the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) at their AGM at the Royal College of Music in London UK.
The British Violin Making Association is one of the foremost violin making associations, with about 500 members based both in the UK and abroad.
The British Violin Making Association was formed in 1995 with the following aims:
  • to raise the standard of skill and expertise of makers and restorers
  • to share information among makers and restorers
  • to promote the craft to the general public
  • to promote fellowship among all those interested in violins and bows


Its activities fall into two main categories; events and publications.




Among the events organised by the association are:


*  BVMA Makers’ Day, an annual showcase for contemporary violin-makers and bow-makers held each March in London.


*  BVMA Violin Restoration and Bow-Making Course, a nine-day course held bi-annually at Easter for professional makers


*  BVMA Conference which features a combination of speakers, an exhibition and a concert and is an opportunity for members to meet.


In 1998 the BVMA held its first exhibition, 400 Years of Violin Making in the British Isles, at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This was the first major event of its kind ever to be staged, with a display of over 100 instruments and bows made by British makers from the 16th century to the present day, plus a day of lectures related to the exhibition.


In the Spring of 2004 the First BVMA International Violin and Bow Making Competition took place, in conjunction with the RAM, as part of The Genius of the Violin festival. Over 350 violins and bows were submitted for judging both for tone and for craftsmanship by a panel of distinguished violin makers and players. A distinctive characteristic of this competition was that the element of subjectivity was recognised and even encouraged; each judge awarded his own prize, and all types of violin, baroque and modern, with an antiqued or brand-new appearance, were treated equally.


Alongside the festival, the making marathons took place. Two separate teams of makers undertook to make a violin and a bow, each within a twenty-four hour period, in a workshop open to public view. These were finished and played at the final concert, and were sold by raffle to help fund the event.




The BVMA’s first major publication The British Violin, appeared in 2000. It grew from the 1998 exhibition, and is now acknowledged as the definitive work on the subject. Subsequent publications include books on the Voller Brothers and on violin making in Scotland..


Click here to learn more about the BMVA

July 7, 2011


2nd workshop now open at The Bluecoat, Liverpool 1

Michael Phoenix is now the official 'luthier in residence' at 'The Bluecoat' (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Liverpool.
Michael Phoenix is now the only luthier, north of Birmingham, working out of two locations. Michael's intention is to be 'on the door step' of his clients from the Merseyside, Wirral and North Cheshire areas.

He says, "My rural workshop serves North Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire and is set in the most idylic landscape, perfect for making and repairing violins. However, while I still provide a pickup and return service, some of my customers may find my additional location in central Liverpool more convenient ... it's all about customer service and convenience really."

Michael was surprised to find that he is the first violin maker back in the City centre of Liverpool since the 1930's ... " This fact is just further evidence of the ongoing successful regeneration of Liverpool. The changes Liverpool has seen over the past 10 years have been immense. What is going on in Liverpool is more than just a superficial facelift - it's the rebirth of what was the 2nd city of the British Empire. With wonderful new waterfront buildings and world class retail and leisure facilities, alongside the greatest collection of Grade 1 listed architecture outside of London, the city is simply breathtaking. The place is buzzing and now the City is every bit as vibrant as its people. Talking of which, I am meeting so many new clients, without Liverpool accents, who came here to study at one of the Universities and decided to stay, and also some who moved on, then missed the atmosphere and the craic and so decided to return and settle here ... Liverpool gets you like that! "
The new workshop is at Studio 2, The Bluecoat - which is a visually stunning early 18th century building and a UNESCO world heritage site with Grade One listed status - re-opened after a £14 million re-development in 2008. It is the oldest building in Liverpool city centre and was built in 1716, the same year as Antonio Stradivari built the most famous violin in the world - ' The Messiah '.
Michael says, " It's strange to think that when this fine old bulding was being built, 'Stradi' was whittling away at his finest creation. For me it's a tangeable link to the past and though 1716 really isn't that old compared to some other European cities, it does show that Liverpool's 'recent' rise to world prominence, pre-industrial revolution, was substantial and swift. Fuelled by a surge in world commerce, the slave trade and mass emigration to the New World's of America and Australasia, the Port of Liverpool earned its title ' The World in One City ' and as a result now boasts the oldest Chinese community in Europe, amongst others. Consequently, Liverpool people (known as 'Scousers') have a world reknown reputation for friendliness, acceptance and tolerance, albeit with a hint of recalcitrance, giving respect in abundance but only where it is due and well earned ".
The Bluecoat is a world famous Arts venue and gallery and has hosted works by Picasso, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin and numerous more contemporary artists. Once visited by Stravinsky, Bartok and Britten, today The Bluecoat is a creative hub, showcasing talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature.

May 16, 2011
Partnership with Pirastro Strings
Michael Phoenix is happy to announce his new trade partnership with Pirastro Strings
After some discussion withVolker Müller-Zierach, the Chairman of German company Pirastro Strings Michael Phoenix is happy to announce a trade partnershp between Pirastro Strings and his company Michael Phoenix Violins.
Michael said " Pirastro encompass everything that is admirable about German precision engineering.
I look forward to a long lasting relationship and to passing on their excellent products at competitive prices to my customers.
Click here to learn more about Pirastro Strings  

April 27, 2011
Partnership with Allianz Musical Insurance
Michael Phoenix is happy to announce his new approved repairer and agency partnership with Allianz Musical Instrument Insurance
... to follow