Sonja Harasim, assistant professor of violin, plays a fiddle with an interesting history.
Oddly enough, the instrument is only 3 years old.
In 2011, Harasim received a hand delivery from Mario and Brenda Miralles, California-based luthiers, while she was performing at a music festival in La Jolla, Calif.
After more than a year of waiting, Harasim had her new violin, a replica of a 1715 violin made by Antonio Stradivari, a world-renowned luthier.
As a student, Harasim studied with Cho-Liang Lin. It was his idea to connect Harasim with the Miralleses.
Harasim says they had the idea to build a new instrument that would be modeled after Lin’s Titian Strad.
“My instrument has the same dimensions of (Lin’s) Strad,” she says, adding that Mario Miralles' craftsmanship gives the instrument its distinctive characteristics.
“It has its own unique sound,” she says.
Contemporary violin makers are able to make copies of world-renowned Strads using today’s advanced technology. Miralles looked at images of Lin's authentic Strad created by a CT scan, which is normally used for medical purposes. He used these images to build Harasim’s replica.
Harasim remembers receiving the instrument and playing it for the first time. Miralles wanted to make sure everything fit just right.
“It really was just perfect from the beginning,” Harasim says.
Miralles is a highly sought-after luthier with a waiting list that goes on for years. Harasim says she feels lucky to have an instrument made by such a talented violin maker, as well as to have built a friendship with him and his wife.
“They are just great people,” she says, “and they just became friends. I’ve never taken my fiddle to anyone (else).”
Although she was born in Cincinnati, Harasim had spent most of her life in Houston after moving there when she was 2 years old. After receiving her undergraduate at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Harasim returned to Houston to study at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she worked with Lin.
Harasim began working as an assistant professor of violin at Concordia last year. She says she enjoys teaching the violin because of the collaboration and relationships she has with her students.
“I find it very exciting to share something I discover in the music and to discover things together,” she says.
This week, she will perform Austrian composer Alban Berg’s violin concerto with The Concordia Orchestra as a soloist during a six-day tour of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Harasim says she has enjoyed working with the orchestra and has felt welcomed by the musicians and conductor Foster Beyers.
“(This) goes down as one of the top music experiences in my life,” she says. “It is the most wonderful group to collaborate with.”
Photo credit: Richie Hawley