John Williams, virtuoso classical guitarist is playing on my ipod. It seems appropriate. Today I learned that my classical guitar guru for so many years, had lessons at Montsalvat from his father Len. Justus Jorgensen’s son Sebastian also learnt from Len. Apparently Sebastian was very good and played professionally with John Williams at one stage. Phew what a history. In the seventies, the BBC filmed a concert given by John Williams at Montsalvat, for a documentary. How did I miss that one?
The person to pass these stories on to me today was Chris Wynne, a Luthier. What a lovely name for an equally lovely occupation. Luthier means maker of stringed instruments, in this case the guitar. Six years ago he moved his workshop to Montsalvat, an opportunity which facilitated his dream of working full time, teaching others the gentle art of making guitars and making guitars himself. Hand made guitars, created from Australian timbers such as Sheoak, Blackwood, Bunya Pine, King Billy Pine, and Mulga.
Chris treated me to a lovely little piece by Bach outside his workshop.
When I asked Chris what he would like you, dear readers, to know about him, quick as a flash he said,
“I’d like to write a book. I’d call it affectionately, The Lunacy of the Luthiery. It would be a book about the fun and stories of teaching people.”
His favourite story is what he calls his “Harry Met Sally” story. I held my breath a bit with this one….I’ve tried to write down his description of this moment, but somehow it’s not nearly as funny as when Chris told me today. So you’ll have to wait for his book if you want to know the details of that one… What a tease. Suffice to say, that the book and its stories would let you know the joy and in some cases the ecstacy students have experienced as a result of making their own guitar.
In addition to his workshop at Montsalvat, several years ago, with the aid of his business partner Fiona Mitchell, Chris set up a workshop in Umbria. For three months of every year, he taught guitar making in arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the world! The only drawback of this workshop was that all of the students couldn’t be accommodated there, so Chris searched around for another workshop. As luck would have it, he found a newly renovated Villa in Lucca, which filled the bill perfectly. In April of this year he will try out his new venue. I know… poor thing… I’m not jealous, really!! I just want what he’s having.
If you would like to know more about Chris’s classes here or in Italy check out his website.