When around 1530-1550 the first violin family instruments were built in Northern Italy, all of them were called “Viola da Braccio” – arm viola as opposed to “Viola da Gamba”-leg viola, whether they represented the soprano, alto or tenor voice. Thus the viola is the ancestor of the violin family, violino being the small viola. […]
Acousticians and engineers have been drawn into the field of instrument making and contributed valuable insights. Experience with a myriad of different wood species, wood treatments, variations with measurements of all components make it evident, that no single factor can be understood out of context. Sibylle conceives the structure of the instrument with a system in mind. She takes note of all denominators from materials, arching, ground and varnish making to fitting up.
Sharing a workshop with husband Greg Walke, both benefit from experience and observations. While Sibylle and Greg stock European tone wood, they have grown to like a light but tough Engelman/ white spruce cross from British Columbia. They also scour the local sawmills for clean homogenous red maple.
As an amateur cellist Sibylle is especially drawn to cello making. See the Instrument gallery for some of Sibylle’s violins viola and cello models.
The first years in Canada, Sibylle spent much of her time on repairs and maintenance work, eventually taking on complex rebuilding and restoring tasks. A number of charming but battered old celli were rebuilt, gently wrestled into shape and re-adjusted to play. Sibylle has also done work for Canadian city shops such as the Sound Post in Toronto, Wilder & Davies in Montreal and the Vancouver violin shop.
Today she enjoys maintenance work and bow re-hairs for the musicians of her community in Grey Bruce counties, and takes on occasional restoration challenges. She maintains contact with makers/restorers across the country and has participated in the Banff Restoration courses.
Sibylle offers an annual free checkup to her own instruments.
Sibylle loves the physicality of her work. Living and working near the Bruce she explores the gorgeous landscapes, the waters and the wood yards and meets the area's adamant musicians and talented artisans.
High caliber music making in the region include the annual Kincardine Summer Music Festival (KSMF), Leith and Sweetwater Music Festivals. There she has found over the years feedback and support from exceptionally dynamic explorers such as the Gryphon Trio, the Penderecki Quartet, Scott St. John and Shauna Rolston, Mark Fewer, Denise Djokic, Tom Wiebe and the Lafayette Quartet among others.
Playing in the Georgian Bay Symphony helps her to appreciate the needs of working musicians and to value the opinions of dedicated amateurs.
Recent Posts from the Blog
In late March 2020 we returned from a long visit to the Yukon expecting workshop life to start full tilt. Instead the pandemic initially held off repairs and service work and allowed me to catch up and finish instruments, to clean up and dig through archives. When in late spring I received an inquiry about […]