The Amati quartet includes a viola, cello, and two violins that were handcrafted in the Italian city of Cremona in the 1600s by members of the famous Amati family. Considered pioneers in the practice of constructing bowed stringed instruments—or the first great luthiers—the Amati family have crafted some of the world’s most sought-after instruments.
All of the instruments that make up the quartet have a varied and rich history, and to kick off this year’s concert series, all eyes—and ears—will be on the Amati cello.
According to the historical background of the instruments acquired by USask, the cello of the Amati quartet was made in 1690 by Girolamo Amati II. The unique cello was lost for decades in an attic in the Earl of Plymouth’s Castle in England, along with other fine instruments.
On the back of the cello, a red seal depicts the joint arms of the Earl of Plymouth and the Clive family of India, commemorating an earlier marriage in the family.
“It is rare for anyone to own one Amati instrument – to have a quartet of Amatis in beautiful playing condition is almost unheard of,” said Dr. Véronique Mathieu, associate professor of violin and the David L. Kaplan Chair in Music, a position made possible by a $2-million donation from alumni Xiaoping (Bob) Xu (MA’92, LLB’17) and Ling Chen (MA’90) and named in honour of their former music professor.
“This collection owned by the University of Saskatchewan is the only one in the whole country.”
Tétreault will play the famed Amati cello at the first Discovering the Amatis concert this year, alongside one of the rare and famous Stradivarius cellos that Tétreault has on permanent loan. Stradivarius cellos are considered to be some of the finest cellos in the world.
Tétreault will play both the Stradivarius and the Amati cellos during the Oct. 15 concert.
“It will be a rare occasion to have both of these instruments in Saskatoon at once, and for our audience to hear some of the finest string instruments in the world in the same concert,” said Mathieu.
Tétreault on cello and Sandra Murray on piano will provide a stunning opening to the concert series with a performance on Oct. 15. This concert is presented in partnership with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and Prairie Debut.
With the remarkable history of the Amati quartet, a new musical composition will also join the Discovering the Amatis concert series this season.
The Penderecki string quartet will be featured in the Dec. 10 concert, and will be premiering a new quartet by Saskatchewan-born composer David Scott featuring the Amati instruments. The new quartet was specifically commissioned for the Discovering the Amatis concert series at USask and the David L. Kaplan Trust Fund.
The Amati String Instrument Collection of rare fine instruments was assembled by Stephen Kolbinson, a grain farmer from Kindersley, Saskatchewan. Kolbinson developed a passionate curiosity for old Italian instruments, and travelled the world looking for instruments to add to his collection. A close friend of Kolbinson, Murray Adaskin, played an important role in USask’s acquisition of the Amati instruments in 1959.
Learn more about the Amati String Instrument Collection at USask: https://leadership.usask.ca/unit/amati.php#top
All concerts take place in Convocation Hall on the USask campus beginning at 3 PM. Tickets for all shows in the 2023-24 season of Discovering the Amatis are available now on EventBrite.