VC VOX POP | “Does Your Instrument Have a Pet Name?” [Q&A]

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …

Ray Chen Love Violins

“Does your instrument have a pet name?

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …

Australian Soloist, VC Artist Violinist Ray Chen:

“My violin has an official name The Joachim … but I call it Tiger – because of its one piece tiger-striped back …”

Canadian Violin Soloist Lara St. John:

“I used to call him Guad Baby … but now I call him The Great One  …. I also have a Schiddle – a German factory violin I sometimes use for Klezmer shows …”

Time For Three Violinist, VC Artist Charles Yang:

“I play on a Carl Becker violin  …. her varnish is a beautiful orange-gold so I call her Carrot …”

VC Artist Cellist Kian Soltani:

“No … as i don’t really talk to it much … but on plane tickets its name is Mr Cello Soltani  …”

Curtis Institute Faculty Member, Violinist Ida Kavafian:

“Yep … JB …. as he is a JB Guadagnini from 1751 …”

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Concertmaster, VC Artist Violinist Nikki Chooi:

“On good days I call it Violin – if it is being temperamental, I call it Viola …'”

Dallas Symphony Concertmaster, Alexander Kerr:

“My current instrument, no, but my first instrument  … a 1984 Peresson … I named Caroline after a French-Canadian violinist I met on a youth orchestra tour …”

German Violin Soloist David Garrett: 

“Even when I was a child I never gave my instrument a name … for me it was always a piece of art … something really special so I cannot give it a name …”

Russian-American Violin Soloist Philippe Quint:

“The 1708 Antonio Stradivari I’ve been playing on for a few years has the name Ruby … for its red intense varnish …” 

British Cello Soloist Steven Isserlis:

“My instrument is called The Marquis de Corberon … I do sometimes call him Marquis … anything less formal would feel cheeky – he’s an aristocrat, not a pet! Maybe I’m his pet? … “

Cellist Zuill Bailey:

The Rosette … there are only two cellos in existence with a carving of the Rosette under the fingerboard … this 1693 Matteo Gofriller never leaves my side …”

French Violinist Augustin Dumay:

“My violin is often called The Canary Bird … Made in 1743/44 it was one of the last Guarnerius del Gesù … and was played by two famous violinists, Leonid Kogan, and Wolfgang Schneiderhan … “

Veteran New England Conservatory Cello Pedagogue, Laurence Lesser:

“I never gave it a name …. since it’s my elder by a lot (1622), if it so wished maybe it should have given me a name! …”

Curtis Institute Violin Pedagogue, Aaron Rosand:

“No …. but I often refer to it as my voice … “

Canadian Violin Soloist James Ehnes:

“Nope … maybe I should be more creative?”

Italian-German Soloist, VC Artist Violinist Augustin Hadelich:

“I just refer my violin as The Violin … Yes, it’s a monogamous relationship …”

Korean-American Violin Soloist Sarah Chang:


American Soloist, VC Artist Violinist Stefan Jackiw:

”We have a love/hate relationship, and our pet names for each other reflect the fraught nature of our interaction … ”

Milwaukee Symphony Concertmaster, Frank Almond:

“I call it different things, depending on how I’m sounding…”

Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster, VC Artist Violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley:

“I sometimes call my Bergonzi violin … Carlo

VC Artist Violinist Tessa Lark:

“I call the Strad Baby G … The G is for its previous owner, Gingold, and the violin feels like my baby… hence the Baby …”

American Violin Soloist Anne Akiko Meyers:

“I name the ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu, V ….  V for Vieuxtemps …”

VC Artist Violinist Benjamin Beilman:

“The Nippon Music Foundation recently loaned me the Engleman Stradivarius … since I just received the instrument in December I’m not quite ready for a pet name yet …”

VC Artist Violinist Bella Hristova:

“I call my violin Nicky sometimes  … after Nicolo Amati …  Nicky, it’s time to practice …”

VC Artist Violinist Paul Huang:

“… Sometimes I refer it as Henryk, because it was once owned by Wieniawski and Henryk was his first name …”

VC Artist Violinist Angelo Xiang Yu:

“I call my wonderful Stradivarius violin Black Angel … If I treat her well she will always sing like a beautiful Angel … but if I’m in a bad mood and don’t treat her with the best care, she does crazy things to me … like wolf notes and a squeaking e string … hence the Black …”

VC Artist Violinist Igor Pikayzen:

“My violin doesn’t have a name … but I do always refer to it as her  … in Russian, the word for violin “скрипка” is feminine …”

VC Young Artist Violinist Kerson Leong:

”It doesn’t officially have a pet name …. but some times when taken aback by its forceful sonority I’ve yelled, You beast!”

VC Young Artist Violinist William Hagen:

“I’ve actually never named any violin that I’ve played on … naming it makes me feel like it is a pet … “