23rd February 2010, 3:43pm
History in the making at priceless violin's homecoming concert
Leader of the Hallé, Paul Barritt, with the Lincoln Strad A priceless violin belonging to the people of Lincoln will again be the star of a homecoming concert as a new booklet detailing its intriguing history is unveiled.

County historian Richard Lucas has penned a fresh account of the 'Lincoln Strad' – a violin made in 1695 by the Antonio Stradivari, an Italian craftsman regarded as the world's greatest string instrument maker.

The publication of the 20-page history booklet coincides with the Lincoln Strad's return to its home city for a classical music concert at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre on Sunday 28 February.

Paul Barritt, leader of the Hallé Orchestra, will perform a Mozart violin concerto on the instrument, accompanied by the Lincolnshire Youth Chamber Orchestra.

The Lincoln Strad was bequeathed to the people of Lincoln in 1970 by the Hon. Mrs Dudley Pelham on the condition that it was loaned to the world famous Hallé Orchestra for the use of their leader.

Mr Lucas, an amateur historian and President of the Lincoln Civic Trust, was one of just a handful of people present when the violin was handed over to civic dignitaries at Lincoln's Guildhall 40 years ago.

A lover of classical music who has followed the Hallé since the 1940s, Mr Lucas decided to chronicle the Lincoln Strad's story after watching Paul Barritt perform with the instrument at the LPAC in 2009.

Mr Lucas said: "Many people in Lincoln do not know that this violin belongs to the city. I wanted to write this book so people know what they have got. It describes how the violin came to be presented to the city in 1970 and there are short biographies of Mrs Pelham and Antonio Stradivari, as well as a description from Paul Barritt, leader of the Hallé, on what it is like to play the Lincoln Strad."

The concert, 'Lincoln Strad Plus Plus!' is part of the LPAC's International Concert Series and also features world class musicians Graham Oppenheimer (viola) and Robert Cohen (cello), who, like Paul Barritt, will be playing Stradivarius instruments.

Mr Oppenheimer, Artistic Director of the International Concert Series, said: "It's a real thrill for me to perform alongside the Lincoln Strad, which not only inspires Paul, but also the other musicians and audiences. It's important that we involve young people alongside this unique instrument and the Lincolnshire Music Service has been both very helpful in planning education projects involving the Lincoln Strad."

Chris Rogers, String Co-ordinator at the Lincolnshire Music Service, said: "The Lincolnshire Youth Chamber Orchestra is looking forward to the collaboration with great anticipation. Paul has already been to several schools and worked with many pupils, including some of the Chamber Orchestra players. He has been absolutely inspiring. The chance for the orchestra to play with a Stradivarius violin is a once in a lifetime experience."

The International Concert Series performance 'Lincoln Strad Plus Plus!' takes place at 4pm on Sunday 28 February. Tickets cost £12 (£10 concessions) and are available from the Engine Shed and LPAC Box Office, open Monday to Friday from 10am - 4pm, Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln. They are also available by phoning 0844 888 4414 or visiting www.lpac.co.uk. The book, 'Lincoln's Stradivarius', costs £3.50 and will be on sale at the concert.
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