In 2015, the ASO was fortunate to be loaned a very special instrument – the “Mary Pascoe Violin”. Mary Pascoe was an accomplished violinist who retired from the ASO in 1994. Following her death in 2004, her widower Robin Sanderson could not bring himself to sell her violin, a valuable instrument made in 1840 by John F. Lott of London. Robin generously decided to loan the violin to the ASO, to be played by a member of the orchestra. The first recipient was Judith Coombe, who played Mary’s violin until retiring last year. Continuing its ASO journey, the instrument is now in the hands of violinist Emma Perkins, who spoke to us about this special opportunity.
Why did you take up the opportunity to play the Mary Pascoe violin?
I was very lucky to come across my own violin when I was looking to buy a better instrument at age 16. It ended up being far better than anything I was hoping for at the time, and it has carried me into my professional career. I’ve grown into the player I am on my instrument, and will always be very attached to it. However, like all instruments, it does have a distinct personality, and as it is the only instrument I have played professionally
I’ve often wondered whether trying a different instrument might help me to explore and develop other aspects of my playing. Therefore, I was very keen to try the Mary Pascoe Violin when the opportunity arose.
What is particularly special about playing Mary’s violin?
Once I tried Mary’s violin I fell in love with the sound of it. It is wonderfully warm and mellow, and a beautiful instrument. It has a very different sound and personality from my violin, and it has been lovely getting to know the instrument and adapting the way
I play to suit it. It has led me to think about how much of one’s ‘playing style’ is of your own doing, and how much is inspired by the instrument that you play.
I feel incredibly privileged to be able to play Mary’s violin in the ASO as she did for so many years, and I am grateful to her widower Robin for the opportunity. I absolutely love the thought that the violin has had such a rich and long history with the orchestra and that I will play a part in continuing its journey.
With thanks to Robin Sanderson for loan of the Mary Pascoe Violin.