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News & Media > Music and the Arts > Violinist virtuoso, Emily Sun (2009) becomes custodian of one of the world’s rarest violins.

Violinist virtuoso, Emily Sun (2009) becomes custodian of one of the world’s rarest violins.

This morning ABC News reported that Emily Sun (2009) is the latest custodian of one of the world’s rarest and most valuable violins, 'The Adelaide', a 250-year-old violin valued at over $1.5 million.
24 Apr 2024
Music and the Arts
Photo courtesy of UKARIA: Nik Babic
Photo courtesy of UKARIA: Nik Babic

Emily, one of MLC School’s Eminent Alumnae and the winner of a 2021 Alumnae Award, says she feels ‘very privileged to play on this beautiful instrument during this fleeting period of its already long life and history. This violin has a very rich sound with a lot of depth.’

The Adelaide is part of a rare and valuable set of instruments known as the ‘golden age’ instruments, most from 17th and 18th century Italy. Giovanni Battista Guadagnini made this violin in Milan between 1753 and 1757.

Purchased in 1955, with many South Australians donating to a public subscription to meet the purchase price of 1,750 pounds, the violin was named The Adelaide to honour these South Australians for their generosity.

A trust was established to ensure its preservation. The violin has since passed through the hands of numerous performers who are respected leaders and educators in the Australian music world.

In 2013, Adelaide’s UKARIA Cultural Centre was entrusted with the violin’s ongoing maintenance and care.  UKARIA loans The Adelaide to a different Australian musician for a period of three years.

The Adelaide is not Emily’s first vintage instrument, she formerly played a 1760 violin made by Nicolò Gagliano, another Italian maker. Emily says she can definitely tell the difference between the Gagliano and The Adelaide: ‘The lower notes are so deep sometimes it sounds almost like a cello. You can hear the different voices like soprano, alto, tenor and bass across the four strings when you play this violin.’

Describing her relationship with her violins as ‘like a marriage’ which evolves over time, Emily said ‘We’re still getting to know each other. With these great old instruments, there’s always something more to figure out through pushing each other’s limits every day.’

Emily says she feels privileged to have ‘a piece of Australian story with me wherever I perform in the world.’ As the 2023 Artist-in-Association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Emily and The Adelaide will regularly perform in the city that bears the violin’s name.

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