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Alex W Grant Violins was founded in 1996; soundly built on a wealth of experience in the field of orchestral stringed instruments, the firm has grown rapidly since that time, to become one of the most respected violin houses in Australasia. This reputation is based on expert knowledge accumulated during years of maintaining, repairing and restoring classic violins, violas and cellos belonging to some of the finest musicians in this country and internationally. We are proud to have been appointed the official repairer to the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition since 2007.
You are welcome to visit at any time to seek our advice on accessories, repairs and restorations, or to try out instruments and bows (fine instruments and bows by appointment). Our showroom is at 26 Smith Street in Collingwood. Please come in to have a look and meet the friendly staff.
The showroom is open from 9.00 am until 6.00 pm Monday to Friday and from 10.00 am until 5.00 pm on Saturdays. Alex is available to discuss any concerns you may have about your instrument until 1.00 pm daily, by appointment.
Working in his paradoxically quiet workshop in one of Melbourne’s most vibrant areas, Alex carefully produces a range of the finest quality bowed instruments. Hidden away in a building which dates back more than 100 years, in an area famed for its cafés, curio shops, galleries and ethnic restaurants, Alex’s workshop is a Mecca for musicians eager to try new or antique violins and bows or to discuss repairs and restorations to their own treasured instruments.
Born in the Highlands of Scotland, Alex was encouraged to participate in music making from an early age. He was given his first violin at the age of four by a family friend and although he gained some playing skills, it was the construction of the instrument that fascinated him and by the age of fifteen he was repairing his own and other local musicians’ instruments.
After marrying, Alex moved to New Zealand where this interest resulted in his taking charge of the violin department of the leading music store in the capital city of Wellington. Here, Alex had the opportunity to liase with other luthiers and, over six years, to develop his skills, making several new instruments whilst also restoring for the capital’s musicians.
A growing interest in the theory of the acoustic structure of the violin, fuelled by an increasing demand for his repair skills, involved a return to his native United Kingdom where, having been accepted for both the Newark and Welsh schools decided that the renowned Welsh School of Violin Making offered a course better suited to his philosophy and abilities. He, therefore, started an intensive three-year course studying the Italian method of violin construction in the lovely old college located in the Rhymny Valley in Mid Glamorgan.
Graduating with merit, Alex was recruited to take charge of the workshop of one of the UK’s major dealers to the trade in the London area and in 1992 was invited to head the restoration workshop of one of Asia’s premier violin dealers in Hong Kong. His years in Hong Kong were remarkable, not only for the exceptional instruments he was entrusted to restore but also for the international artists who frequently visited this wonderfully frenetic city-state.
In 1996 Alex decided to move to Australia to open his own showroom where, from the outset, his reputation for first class craftsmanship, combined with efficiency, has placed his restoration skills in great demand, this being testimony to the uncompromisingly high standards which are maintained in the workshop.
Marina Grant oversees the smooth running of our showroom and handles the general administration, which includes tracing, sourcing and ordering new products and instruments as well as the routine clerical duties required to be done every day to make sure the whole 'behind the scenes' operation runs smoothly. If you are looking for a specific item then Marina is the person you need to speak with and she will do her best to track it down for you.
Marina also takes care of all internet and phone orders and makes sure our Events Diary is kept up to date.
She is usually the first person you will speak with when you ring up and will be able to direct you to the appropriate person to help with your enquiry.
Stephen Hughes joined the team at Grant Violins in 2003 as an instrument consultant. Drawing on eight years of teaching experience at school and university levels, Stephen has a great enthusiasm for assisting players in their choice of instruments and bows according to their needs.
Since 1986 Stephen has worked as a freelance cellist in Melbourne with professional and amateur orchestras, including Orchestra Victoria; Melbourne Chamber Orchestra; Stonnington Symphony; Melbourne Musicians and the Melbourne Opera Orchestra. He has toured with OzOpera for several seasons, and been guest principal cellist with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra; in 2006 he took part in the highly successful Melbourne Season of “Fiddler On The Roof” with Topol.
Stephen's cello studies have taken him to the USA, Croatia, Europe and the UK, where he lived and worked for three years. He is particularly interested in early twentieth-century string chamber music and usually has various chamber music projects under way; he is a regular participant at the Chamber Music Summer School, in Mt Buller Victoria.
We are also pleased to have Richard Cox and Eva Rankin, two talented violin makers and restorers working alongside Alex in the workshop where they attend to all manner of violin related work from new making to simple repairs and long term complex restoration procedures.
Richard was born in Adelaide and grew up in Darwin in the 70's. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University), majoring in Painting and he also studied classical guitar, discovering a growing passion for classical music.
After a period of wide-ranging overseas travel, exploring various cultures, arts and languages, he returned to Adelaide and undertook Technical and Further Education (TAFE) classes in violin and cello making with Dante Roccisano. On re-locating to Melbourne he worked at The Violineri in Richmond for six years. In 2004 he joined the team at Grant Violins. Richard has been providing practical assistance to musicians at all levels for over ten years, and his knowledge of string-playing products and accessories is extensive.
Eva Rankin was born in Switzerland in 1969. After high school she studied violin making at the Newark Violin Making School in England before completing her studies in Switzerland gaining a diploma from the violin making School of Brienz. Eva has lived and worked in Australia since 1996. Eva joined our workshop in 2005.
Assisting Marina and Stephen in the showroom and the office are Cath Turnbull and Rafael Grassi. They are both players and experienced teachers, able to demonstrate the instruments and recommend the appropriate accessories.