Helena plays on a Christian Bayon violin made in 2013.
Having played a three quarter sized Amati violin loaned to her by her teacher Pamela Spofforth as a child, Helena went on to play a Montagnana for 8 years loaned to her by J & A Beare. After this she spent 10 years searching for her own instrument. During this time she performed on violins made by Amati, Maggini and Zygmuntowicz. Helena was then introduced to Christian Bayon and tried the violin that he had made for soloist Isabelle Van Keulen. She new immediately that this was the instrument for her. Travelling to Lisbon during the process of her violin being made was an amazing experience and she collected the violin from Christian’s workshop in June 2013.
Christian Bayon is a French luthier living and working in Lisbon. He began his career as a technician working on the hydraulic systems of fighter planes in the Navy. Whilst still in the Navy he began to teach himself to make stringed instruments. After 6 years in the Navy Christian was soon repairing violins made by Stradivarius, Guarneri, Montagnana, Amati, etc. and was working for musicians such as Augustin Dumay, Truls Mork, Jian Wang, Maxime Vengerov, Shlomo Mintz, Daniel Muller-Schott and Lynn Harrell. In 2003, he abandoned restoration to devote himself to making violins, violas and cellos in an attempt to recreate the superb instruments that had passed through his hands in the 28 years he had spent as a stringed-instrument restorer. Soloists such as Tedi Papavrami, Alina Pogotskina, Isabelle Van Keulen, Augustin Dumay, Michal Kaňka (Prazak Quartet), Silvia Simionescu, Pavel Gomziakov, Justus Grimm, Liana Gourdjia, Rosemary Warren-Green and Tatiana Samouil now play instruments made by Christian Bayon.
Helena uses a case by London based maker Howard Wiseman to carry her Bayon violin.
Helena spent a long time searching for the ideal violin case. One that was strong enough to protect valuable instruments such as the Montagnana and Amati that she was performing on but also light enough to carry around on a day to day basis. Having struggled to find something that fitted this criteria exactly she approached Howard Wiseman. Howard is well known in the music business for making wind and brass cases that are ingenious in their design, fitting multiple instruments into compact cases that are the strongest and sturdiest on the market. Howard was working on his first violin case at the time that was to be made of carbon fibre to make it light but extremely strong. With Helena’s suggestions he has now made a violin case that fits her Bayon violin exactly, carries 3 bows and her baroque bow and is revolutionary in its strength, weight and slim design.
It is a Carbon-Fibre oval-sectioned case to provide the greatest protection for valuable violins. Featuring stainless steel hinges and locks/catches, the violin is suspended on rubber blocking with the belly and scroll hanging in to space. Inside are hidden structural reinforcements to add enormous crush-resistance to the design; wooden pillar posts joining the base and lid of the case on either side of where the neck joins the violin. The bows are blocked in with rubber with no possibility of hairs catching, or the bows themselves becoming lose to hit against the violin. There is a very large storage area around the scroll end of the violin. The case has rucksack style leather straps to ensure a comfortable distribution of weight when carrying.