I met Doug in the 1970s when he worked for J. Bradley Taylor in Boston. Doug was someone I came to rely on for work on my instrument at that time. I received a card from him inviting me to visit his shop, then in Watertown. I went, and when I saw a violin hanging "in the white", I quipped, "I want that one!" Doug explained that that particular instrument was destined to be a Baroque violin. At that, I asked for a first option, and I did purchase that violin, his number 29, and play on it happily until I returned it to Doug last year as I purchased my current Baroque violin, "Leduc" Guarneri copy. In the mid-1980s, my future husband Peter and I visited Doug in his shop at the Putney School, where Peter commissioned viola #61 and I purchased one of Doug's modern violins. I have since commissioned a copy of my 1793 Joseph Gagliano, and then acquired the second copy that was made, which I own and enjoy now. ~ Maria Benotti
Violinist Maria Benotti founded Music at Eden’s Edge, the North Shore’s own resident chamber music ensemble, in 1982. As its Artistic Director, she has shaped its programs and artistic vision while performing for 30 seasons. Active in Boston’s vibrant musical scene, she is a member of the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where she has taught violin, chamber music and Sonata Duo class since 1977, as well as having offered a course in string pedagogy in the School for Continuing Education.
Ms. Benotti has performed in recitals and chamber concerts throughout New England, including a Jordan Hall solo recital and numerous faculty recitals at New England Conservatory, the Enchanted Circle Series at Jordan Hall, the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, the Monadnock Music Festival and the Music at Noon Series at Northeastern University. She is a founding member of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston. She appeared for years as concertmaster and chamber performer on modern violin with the St. John’s Concert Series in Beverly Farms and performed for many years on early violin with the Handel and Haydn Society. She has recorded for Friedrich von Huene and composer Howard Rovics, and she has served as a competition judge for New England Conservatory, The Boston Guitarfest, the Longy School of Music ,and Tufts University. She was recently named “Friend of the Arts” by the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.
A graduate of Oberlin College and New England Conservatory of Music, Ms. Benotti studied with Eric Rosenblith, Dorothy DeLay, Masuko Ushioda and Valeria Kuchment. Her chamber music studies included such master teachers as Josef Gingold, Eric Rosenblith, Donald Weilerstein, David Wells, and Michael Schnitzler in Vienna. She studied with Günter Pichler while a special student at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria.
Ms. Benotti lives on a working farm in Essex, MA and enjoys the interplay of a well-grounded connection with the earth and the artistic demands of teaching and playing the violin.
I am honored to be play on an instrument which sings the brightest of passages, and also the darker timbres, with ease. More colors are simply waiting to be discovered. ~ Brendon Elliott
Brendon Elliott has been described as an accomplished performer who “plays with substantial sound and a lovely feeling of warmth, with a not especially youthful self-possession” (The Richmond Times Dispatch). A Virginia Native, he attends the Curtis Institute of Music where he studies with Pamela Frank and Joseph Silverstein. He began his violin studies under his mother’s tutelage at the age of three.
Brendon made his debut as a soloist when he was 10 years old, performing a concerto with the Hampton University Orchestra. Since then, he has been a soloist with several professional and community orchestras such as The York River Symphony Orchestra, The Peninsula Youth Orchestra, The Richmond Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony of the Mountains, the Hampton University Orchestra, and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
At the age of thirteen, Brendon appeared on From the Top on NPR, a nationally syndicated radio broadcast featuring America’s talented young musicians. His’s stunning performance of William Grant Still's Mother and Child was broadcast on WMRA radio. He has also enjoyed the honor of performing the National Anthem for a Washington Nationals Baseball game in the summer of 2011 and 2012. During the 2011/2012 season, he was a guest soloist with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for five special Young Peoples Concerts, “Songs for a Dreamer” concert, and an 9/11 Memorial Concert. As a three-time concerto competition winner, Brendon was also a guest soloist with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra on their masterworks series in April 2012, and he toured with the Virginia Symphony in 2014 performing the Hailstork Violin Concerto.
Brendon’s orchestral experience includes serving as concertmaster of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra for six consecutive years. He also served as concertmaster for Virginia's Southeastern Regional Orchestra in 2010 and 2008, and concertmaster for the 2011 Virginia All-State Orchestra.
As a three-time National Sphinx Competition semi-finalist, Brendon earned the National Sphinx Competition Achievement Award in 2012. He was a finalist in the 2011 American String Teacher’s Association National Solo Competition. He has earned scholarships to several summer institutes including The Eastern Music Festival, The Aspen Music Festival, and The Heifetz International Music Institute.
Brendon's family is also very musical; he is the first violinist in his family's ensemble, The Elliott Family String Quartet, which includes his mother Dannielle Weems-Elliott (viola), and his brother and sister, Sterling (cello) and Justine (violin).
Brendon plays on violin Opus 731, made by Douglas Cox, violin maker in Brattleboro, Vermont, through a Sphinx Music Organization loan.
Chelsea Kim was a student of Donald Weilerstein’s at New England Conservatory Prep. She has also studied with James Buswell, Peter Rovit, and Robert Rozek. She has since gone on to study at Juilliard.
Chelsea was selected as a 2013 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Recipient, which included a cash prize and a live performance on the popular From the Top NPR radio show. She took 1st place in the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, debuting with the Orchestra in 2010. She has placed in several other competitions and participated in masterclasses with Joshua Bell, Stefan Milenkovich, and Philip Setzer.
Chelsea has played with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of New England Conservatory under Benjamin Zander, where she was assistant principal 2nd violin. She has been concertmaster of Philips Exeter Academy’s Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, and is the 1st violinist of the NEC Prep Division Quartet, coached by Natasha Brofsky.
Chelsea has attended Boston University Tanglewood Institute Summer Festival where she was concertmaster in 2011, and she was a participant on Yellow Barn Young Artist Program in 2012. She attended Kinhaven Music School from 2009-2011 where she was also concertmaster.
Chelsea Hyojung Kim
When trying out some of Mr. Cox’s violins I felt I wasn’t educated enough to choose the right one. But when I played his Guadagnini copy, it sounded like I was playing an old instrument. It was a really good feeling. Having an instrument like this gives me confidence technically and musically, and inspires me. -- Sandro Leal-Santiesteban
From Havana, Cuba to the Carnegie-Mellon School of Fine Arts
As a young child, Sandro Leal-Santiesteban accompanied his mother, a pianist, to rehearsals and lessons. He heard the Franck sonata for violin and piano at one such rehearsal and fell in love with the violin. He started lessons at 7 years old.
In 1999, when Sandro was 16, Benjamin Zander went on tour to Cuba with the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra to perform with his school orchestra in Havana. When Sandro saw the level of commitment in the American kids, he realized that he needed to leave Cuba and study in the US. It was a challenge on many levels, especially since relations between the US and Cuba are so poor; but he was lucky to be granted a visa in 2001, and he came to Boston to study with Marylou Speaker Churchill (1945-2009).
Before coming to the States, Sandro never had the chance to play a good violin. He had a poor instrument with no projection, and a bow held together with scotch tape.
It was through the generosity of the Douglas Cox Scholarship program and a family friend, the Hon. Patrick J. King (Ret.), that Sandro was able to purchase violin #428, a Guadagnini bench copy dated 2000. With that violin he did his bachelor's degree at Eastman School of Music; was sub-listed at the New World Symphony; was chosen as a semi-finalist at the Sphinx Competition; and received his master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Fine Arts. He says, "I don’t think I would have succeeded at these endeavors without the Guad."
However, his first two attempts at the Carnegie Mellon Concerto Competition were not successful. His teacher at Carnegie-Mellon, Mr. Cyrus Forough, suggested that he needed a more powerful instrument with more personality. He introduced Sandro to Douglas Cox's violin #503, a copy of Eric Rosenblith's Stradivarius. Paul and Lynda Becker at Carl Becker and Son, Ltd. kindly allowed Sandro to use #503 in when he entered the concerto competition for the third time. He played the Ranjbaran Violin Concerto, a contemporary piece that required a lot of tone projection, and this time won first prize. Paul Becker then helped to engineer the swap of #428, the Guadagnini model, for #503, the Rosenblith Strad model.
About his relationship with Marylou Churchill, Sandro writes, "Marylou Churchill gave me a different perspective to look through music. Every time I had a lesson with her she would say to me, “you have to love it [the violin, music]”, and I did. Marylou was a person with so much love to offer for everyone. Ever since I met this extraordinary human being it was like discovering the violin and music all over again. My career would not have been the same without her."
I played one of Doug’s violins when I first moved to the area as a poor starving musician and vowed to get one as soon as I could. My first Cox is a beautiful Storioni copy (his first). Then along came a 3/4 that I was to give to one of my students to break in, and I fell in love with it. I am 4’8’’ and have always struggled with my fiddle size-wise. To play a smaller fiddle with a full-size sound and a “big heart” was like a miracle and has been a huge inspiration for me.
The thing I like the most about Doug’s instruments is that they seem to be alive and each has a unique essence. The two instruments that I play spoke to me the very moment I put a bow to their strings. ~ Michelle Liechti
Michelle Liechti teaches violin to students of all levels and ages at the Brattleboro Music Center and to high-school students at Northfield Mount Hermon School. She is a member of Arcadia Players and plays freelance gigs both near and far.
The product of a very successful Public School Suzuki program, Michelle spent a year at the San Francisco Conservatory before receiving a Bachelor of Music from Mills College. She studied with David Abel at at both institutions, and developed her love for baroque music with Lorette Goldberg at SFC and Susan Summerfield at Mills.
Kato Havas played a huge role in Liechti’s development as a teacher and as a player. She has worked with Havas from the age of 16, attending numerous workshops both in Brattleboro, VT and Angwin, CA. She studied with her as an undergraduate in a study abroad program while at Mills, and as a graduate as an independent study. She returned to Oxford for a refresher course and was deeply inspired there by the 89-year-old Kato, who was as wise and insightful as ever.
She moved to Brattleboro in 1989 as an au pair, ended up falling in love with Southern Vermont, and has been thriving here since. She lives with her Swiss husband Nicolas on a mini-farm called Half Acre Farm where they raise rabbits and chickens. Their garden fills the freezer and occupies a large chunk of their time along with flower-gardening and knitting. She is discovering late Beethoven Quartets with her colleagues at the BMC, is an aspiring amateur cellist, and plays regularly in a piano trio and a cello quartet.
Being able to explore and project a huge array of rich sounds, colors, and styles has been a dream come true. My Douglas Cox violin has been the perfect tool for showcasing my musicality and creativity as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. It allows me to connect with various audiences around the world through performances of music from different time periods and eclectic styles.
I am truly grateful to Doug for the opportunity to use such an amazingly mature-sounding young instrument. I look forward to seeing how much it continues to develop and surprise me in the years to come. ~ T.J. Wiggins
Currently a member of the prestigious Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland, violinist Teddy Wiggins appears regularly on some of the world’s finest stages. Often performing as Concertmaster or Principal Violin, Teddy can also be heard in the Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Toronto. An avid orchestral musician, his other experience includes the New England Conservatory’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and the Thunder Bay Symphony to name a few. In addition, he has performed under the baton of many leading conductors such as Mario Bernardi, Zubin Mehta, Charles Dutoit, Manfred Honeck, Gianandrea Noseda, and Valery Gergiev.
An active chamber musician, Teddy was a founding member of The Annex Quartet. In 2010, The Annex Quartet was invited to work beside the Kronos Quartet, making their Carnegie Hall debut. In addition, while involved in the group the quartet’s performances included Toronto’s Luminato Festival 2011, Stratford Music Festival 2011, Richard Bradshaw Amphitheater, Mazzoleni Hall and the Bloor Street United Church. Currently, Teddy is also proficient with duo, trio, and quintet repertoire. Chamber music tours have lead him to France, China, Canada, and performances in Boston’s Symphony Hall.
Also an active soloist, Teddy has performed numerous recitals in cities such as Boston, St. Louis, and Toronto. His recent solo appearances include recitals at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto in December 2010 and in Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music in May 2012.
Teddy is a recipient of the Rachel Barton Pine Education and Career Grant. He recently completed a Performance Diploma at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory under the guidance of Paul Kantor and Barry Shiffman. He looks forward to continuing his graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Felicia Moye in the fall of 2012. An alumni and graduate of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Boston, his principal teachers include Paul Kantor, Kelly Barr, and Winifred Crock.
Photos ©Nathan Saliwonchyk, 2012
It was the summer of 2009, and I was in residence at NEC in Boston as a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. I was at an interesting place instrument-wise. I'd been looking and looking for instruments, but to no avail (at least in terms of ones that could live up to my standards without requiring me to win the lottery), and I had been dealing with a revolving door of instruments on loan. A friend who had an instrument from Mr. Cox let me know he'd be visiting NEC, so with a very good dose of pessimism, I climbed the stairs to go meet Mr. Cox and some of his instruments in a dark NEC practice room.
To my incredibly pleasant surprise, I found one of the most knowledgeable and genuine people I have met in the luthier business, and I also met a huge variety of his instruments, all of which were unique and likable in their own way. Gradually, after playing them and working with Mr. Cox, who was graciously fine-tuning them, a clear favourite emerged. YOA was just about to de-camp and take off on tour, but I could not leave the violin behind, I knew it was the one, and I haven't looked back.
Mr. Cox's instrument has grown and developed extensively with me over the past four years, and is continuously garnering the interest and compliments of colleagues, many of whom have remarked how much it has developed, and have been surprised it's only a few years old. I am extremely grateful to Mr. Cox for being so helpful, and for creating an instrument that is such a joy to play, and has served me so well in so many different settings. ~ Melissa Wilmot
Canadian violinist Melissa Wilmot has performed extensively in Toronto both in recitals and as a member of the National Ballet Orchestra, Sinfonia Toronto, the Esprit Orchestra. In 2010, she made her Carnegie Hall debut as a member of the only North American string quartet selected to participate in the Kronos Quartet’s professional training workshop. As an active recitalist and participant in the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Mannes Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance, Banff Masterclass and Festival Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, Melissa has performed in cities ranging from Powell River, Kelowna, and Banff, to NYC, Denver, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Washington, DC.
Melissa is currently pursuing her Masters of Music degree at Rice University with Paul Kantor, having completed her Bachelor of Music degree with him in 2012 at The Glenn Gould School in Toronto. At the Glenn Gould School, Melissa was a scholarship student, on the Dean’s List, a prize winner in the chamber music competition, and was featured frequently as concertmaster of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra under maestros Johannes Debus, Uri Mayer, Zubin Mehta, and Peter Oundjian. Melissa is the recipient of the 2012 Sir Edmund Walker Dorothy Isabella Webb Trust scholarship for graduating students from The Glenn Gould School as well as the 2011 Orford Quartet Scholarship from the Ontario Arts Council.
Born in Kelowna BC, she was member of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2008, was featured on numerous occasions as soloist with them, most recently in John Corigliano's Red Violin Chaconne. She also performed with Ballet Kelowna across British Columbia from 2006-2008, and as soloist with the Kelowna Canada Day Pops Orchestra in 2008. Melissa was the recipient of the 2007 City of Kelowna civic award for 'Teen Honour in the Arts', and in the same year was selected to be the strings representative for BC at the National Music Festival after winning Performing Arts BC.
Mr. Cox's violins are extraordinary among the newly made instruments today, with a great tone, deep and colorful sound, and comfortable to play. To play his instruments is always an enjoyable experience. ~ Quan Yuan
Quan Yuan has shown himself to be an accomplished and versatile young soloist. He is the winner of China International Young Artist Competition in 2006, winner of the 2006 Delaware Symphony Orchestra young artist competition, winner of the 2000 Denmark International Young Artist Competition, and second prize winner of the 2001 China Classical Sonata Competition and the 2001 Central Conservatory of Music Violin Competition.
Mr. Yuan has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, and Asia. These venues includes: Library of Congress, Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, Beijing Concert Hall, Merkin Hall, Sanders Theater, Town Hall of New York City, Calgary Leacock Hall, Field Concert Hall in Philadelphia, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Concert Hall, Beijing Century Theater, Concert Hall of the National Library of China and Xinzhuang Culture and Arts Center of Taipei. He has played concertos with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra, China Youth Chamber Orchestra, Taipei Youth Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Pro Musica, New England Conservatory Philharmonic Orchestra, NEC Wind Ensemble, NEC Bach Ensemble, and NEC Percussion Ensemble. As a chamber musician, his coaches have included members of the Borromeo, Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo, Takacs, and Juilliard String Quartets. Mr. Yuan has given master classes in Taipei and Beijing in 2006, and he has been a judge of the “Golden Beijing” Violin Competition since 2012. He is a faculty member at Focal Chinese Music in Boston.
Since 2012, Mr. Yuan has been a member of the prestigious Beijing Musician Association and he has over 80 commercially successful recordings including: Passion and Capriccio I-VIII: Solo Violin, Chamber Music Concert, Violin Masterpiece Explanations and Sample for Beginners and Intermediates, and Paganini 24 Caprices for Solo Violin: Wei Zhao and Students Concert, etc. His achievements have been reported on by major media including: Little Performer, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, ConcertoNet.com, Music Weekly, Beijing Evening Newspaper, Global Chinese Times, Chinese News Weekly Guangming Daily, Bostonese.com, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Born in Beijing, China, in 1984, Mr. Yuan began his violin studies at age 4 with Muyun Yang. At age 13, he studied with Wei Zhao in the Central Conservatory of Music. After graduating with special distinction, he traveled to the United States to become a student of Joseph Silverstein at the Curtis Institute of Music, then continued his studies with Donald Weilerstein at New England Conservatory from 2008 to 2015. In 2012, he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from NEC with academic honors. Mr. Yuan joined the violins of the Metropolitan Opera of New York City in the fall of 2015.
Photo ©Liang Dong