A man from Lanaudière who has made a living by making and repairing violins for more than 25 years is having his worst year of production, when the cancellation of concerts hits him hard like his colleagues.
“Everything was frozen for at least four months from mid-March, I had nothing, zero, explained Martin Héroux, professional luthier that the QMI Agency interviewed at his workshop in Sainte-Émélie-de- Energy. It barely picked up with the deconfinement, so it decreased by 85% in terms of maintenance and repair too. ”
The professional luthier is also usually very busy during the holiday season, when there is a large community of trad (traditional) music in his sector.
“People usually buy me extra sets of strings and make adjustments to violins, but this year it’s been very quiet,” added the luthier who has won numerous international awards.
Mr. Héroux is not the only one in his field to be severely affected by COVID-19. All Quebec luthiers may have a few years to recover, according to Olivier Pérot, luthier for 35 years and founder of the Maison du violon which has a shop in Montreal and another in Laval. Mr. Pérot is also the Canadian representative within the International Entente des luthiers et bowmakers d’art.
“The order books of luthiers have fallen completely, the manufacturers are unanimous on this,” explained Mr. Pérot. And it’s going to take 2-3 years before we can think again of having a rhythm of orders to make a living. ”
Since the start of the pandemic, Mr. Pérot has seen his turnover drop by 70% at his Montreal business where he mainly serves music professionals.
Isabelle Wilbaux, luthist for about thirty years, is going through the same kind of situation, having not been able to fill her order book since the world was turned upside down by COVID-19.
“The industry was also badly hit by the crises of 2001 [attentats du World Trade Center] and 2008 [crise financière et économique]remembers Ms. Wilbaux, who has won numerous awards for the sound and performance of her instruments. But for once there are possibilities of government aid for luthiers. ”
The Montreal-based luthière was finally able to sell a violin to a musician in British Columbia in early October. The instrument was worth about $ 20,000.
The closing of the borders also affects the ten Quebec luthiers who usually participate in the international competition of the Violin Society of America in November.
“I have already sold my entire violin quartet on site,” said Martin Héroux, when his violins can be worth around $ 18,000 each and the competition allows the presentation of four instruments.
This year, the meeting did take place, but virtually, thanks to the internet.