Jason Viseltear makes violins, violas, and cellos for both contemporary and period performance. His atelier in Manhattan since 1995, his first studies with Robert Young that led to their workshop partnership until 2006; additional studies were with Brice Dupin de Saint Cyr, Michael Sheibley, and François Denis. Since 2001 he has worked alongside leading makers and researchers at the Oberlin Workshops, focusing on the techniques of classical masters as well as current innovations. Exploring the principles of Renaissance design, his own work has been influenced by close studies of masterworks from da Salò to Scarampella, Joseph Filius to Testore, del Gesù to Peter of Venice. Dedicated solely to making new instruments, his award-winning work (which includes the 2014 VSA gold for a viola made on the same model as the instrument exhibited here) is in the hands of many performing musicians and professionals, as well included in esteemed conservatory and private collections, including Harvard, Colburn, and Yale.
A bit about the instrument on display:
“Made in 2016, this particular viola is based on an model I first started delving into in 2007 and is based on studies of a handful of violas made by the great Brescian master Gasparo da Salò. I wanted a ‘big’ viola without going over 16.5 inches and one that was still easy enough to get around. The overall robustness in size of Brescian violas combined with the smaller proportional relationship of body length to stop had me turn to them for inspiration rather than to the works of the Cremonese school that possess a slightly longer string on instruments of similar size. I think this design produced a good balance then of a string length easy to hand on an instrument powerfully sized. That was the hope at least! Anyways, I’ve made a number of them: The first instrument was purchased by Paul Coletti for the Colburn school. The second was lost for a year and then recovered at a water taxi pier in Istanbul – which is another story entirely – and I’ve made maybe ten since. I’ve changed it a bit over the years, finally redrawing it for the 2014 VSA competition and at which it did pretty ok.”
Viola after da Salò by Jason Viseltear, 2016
Body length: 418mm (16.5”)
Stop length: 225mm
String length: 379mm