Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Michael Trainor: A precious performance

Young Northern Ireland musician Michael Trainor tells Matthew McCreary how he will be accompanied by a very special co-star during his Ulster Hall recital

Sometimes the stars of the Belfast Festival are more than just the performers themselves.

And for young Belfast musician Michael Trainor there will be a very special co-star when he visits the Ulster Hall for an afternoon recital — a rare 18th Century violin.

The magnificent instrument dates from 1782 and is the handiwork of renowned Neapolitan violin maker Joseph Gagliano.

Michael is the current keeper of the instrument after it was awarded to him for up to three years by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“Joseph Gagliano was from a big family of makers,” said Michael.

“He was an expert craftsman and one of the best to emerge from that period, the same time as Stradivarius was around.”

Michael, who has just graduated from the Royal College of Music in London, will be playing the violin as part of a young musicians showcase at the Ulster Hall.

And the 22-year-old, who began playing the violin at the tender age of eight, said he was looking forward to putting the instrument through its paces.

“The tone of the instrument is amazing; it's very responsive and has settled in its own sound,” he said.

“With other more modern instruments the wood is moving around and hasn't quite settled. These old instruments have really had to mature and they get better over time.

“They're living, breathing creatures. The more you play them the more they are vibrating and the more responsive they get.

“They're like wines, as they get older they get better!”

The £80,000 violin was donated to the Arts Council by Professor Alan Milton in 1980, and has been used regularly by the Leader and Principal Players of the Ulster Orchestra.

“It was fantastic to be awarded it,” said Michael.

“I was leaving college when I auditioned for it a few months ago, and I was distraught because I didn't even have an instrument to play on. I would have to go back to my £600 instrument that I bought in Belfast ten years ago.

“The Arts Council came to the rescue in time. I was just so happy that I was able to get it.”

Also performing as part of the young musicians event will be Éanna Monaghan, from Belfast, Eimear McGeown, from Armagh, and Kim Vaughan, from Londonderry, all of whom are recipients of the Arts Council Northern Ireland/BBC Northern Ireland Young Musicians' Platform Award.

The performances will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, at the Ulster Hall. Admission is free of charge and the recitals will be broadcast on the BBC's Sounds Classical programme

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