Violin-maker’s path from China to Philadelphia

Posted on: July 9, 2010

In Friday’s (7/9) Philadelphia Inquirer, Julia Terruso writes, “Behind a locked door in Shanghai, Shu Sheng Kot heard a phonograph recording of a piece of music that Chinese authorities had banned as poison: a violin concerto by the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was 1971, more than midway through the repressive decade of China’s Cultural Revolution, and the 19-year-old was enraptured. He decided to teach himself to replicate those tones and bought a $14 factory-made instrument that did little but frustrate him as his skills improved. He could do better, he figured. … Thirty-eight years and two local violin shops later, Kot reached a career milestone: He won his 10th gold medal at the international violin-making competition held last month in Mittenwald, Germany. His latest award was for a viola bow, and he doesn’t intend to rest. … He landed in Philadelphia in 1991—he’d had his eye on the city since hearing that orchestral recording so many years before—and opened his first shop in the city, operating it for seven years before moving to Bryn Mawr. Michael Ludwig, a professional violinist and former artistic producer of the Philadelphia Orchestra [national radio broadcasts], purchased a violin bow from Kot 15 years ago. It’s one of his favorites.”

Posted July 9, 2010