Michele Ashley was raised in the U.S. and completed her secondary education in France. She studied cello as well as ethnomusicology. She attended the International School of Violinmaking in Cremona Italy at the age of 19 where she studied under the tutelage of G.B. Morassi and Pietro Sgarabotto. She graduated in 1975 and established her own violinmaking shop first in the foothills outside of Parma and later in the city of Verona. She studied briefly with Renato Scrollavezza in Parma and afterwards she apprenticed with Mario Gadda of Mantova for whom she worked and made copies for many years. Many of her instruments of that period are being played on in major symphonies throughout Europe and Asia.
She currently works and lives in Montreal Quebec as well as maintains a shop in Waltham, MA. She primarily builds cellos but in the past has also made violins and violas. To date she has made over 200 instruments. Her instruments are owned and played by symphony musicians across the US and Canada as well as by students and faculty of the Curtis Institute, the New England Conservatory, the Julliard School of Music and McGill University. Some of the musicians who play on Ashley instruments include Orlando Cole (Curtis Institute), David Soyer (Guarneri Quartet), Bonnie Hampton (Juilliard School) and Marcy Rosen (Mendlessohn Quartet)
Ashley’s instruments are recognized for their powerful, even and focused response and their broad, rich, tonal qualities. Players take pleasure in the comfort and ease of execution which her instruments provide.