Wednesday 8th January, 2014

I must admit it. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge flying around this camp. I’ve spent the last three days traipsing through gorgeous University libraries, sitting contentedly in the darkened aisles of the compactus. I’ve witnessed a conductor so blissfully enthralled by his craft that his eyes bulged with the strain of the facts packing his brain. I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Mozart, have immersed myself in Copland’s America, and have revelled in the splendour of (seemingly) every publications style guide on Earth. I am a purveyor of high knowledge – but perhaps not today. 

No, I’ve spent Day 4 of Camp philosophising about the humble violin case.

Just think! One can’t take a violin anywhere without a case. So often overlooked, so often overshadowed by the instrument that lies within, yet so vital to its very existence. The humble violin case is indispensable.

Making my way upstairs to the cafeteria at morning tea, I begin to scout for talent. ‘I bought this case when I was about 14,’ Alexander Symphony Orchestra violinist Laura Evans says of her stylish, bright pink ‘Bobelock’ number, ‘and added the black flower stickers later on. It fits everything in it. It’s a bit on the heavy side but it’s well padded. I fly with it a lot, and although it’s usually allowed as carry-on the few times it’s had to go under the case has performed spectacularly.’

A violinist myself, I know that hearing your instrument will have to ‘go under’ is about as palatable as hearing a junior concert band tuning. Was Laura worried about what could happen down there? Not with a case so experienced at fighting off surrounding luggage.

Were Laura to purchase a new violin one day, would she feel the need to consider a different case? ‘Not at all! It’s the greatest case. I look at cases as a “life” purchase, like buying a car. That’s not to say I don’t perve on other cases but I’m very happy with what I’ve got.’ 

Pleased with Laura’s honesty, I continue to scan the room. My eyes are drawn to a beautiful, ruby red case, not much larger than the instrument itself. Its patina is fresh aside from a single scrape the length of my index finger. I approach its owner, Bishop Symphony Orchestra violinist Rita Fernandes, and ask for a photo. I tell her that although I own a beautiful red ‘Bam’ brand case myself, hers is the model I’ve always wanted. ‘It’s a good one,’ she says charmingly. My eyes flicker with jealousy.

Close by is Greg Daniel, principal viola of the Hopkins Chamber Orchestra, chowing down on a muffin. The carbon fibre wonder strapped to his back beckons. I head over and start to explain that although I had chosen to write about violin cases specifically, I’m willing to alter my focus to include his dazzling, striped ‘Bam’ viola case in the blog post – that is, if he’s interested. That’s as far as I can get. 

‘This case has a story! A good story! Do you want to hear it?’ Yes indeed. ‘I was trying to work out which case to buy. There were so many options. I came across one that said “limited edition with stripes” but there were no pictures.’ He pauses. ‘I had this image of a case with racing stripes down the side, you know?’ But that wasn’t what he got? ‘No.’ He motions to his case. ‘I got this one. I didn’t realise it would have greens and browns and all these other colours in it.’ So he received it by accident? ‘Yep! It chose me.’

The case chose Greg? Incredible.

As I leave morning tea, satisfied with my efforts for now, I notice something amazing. Down a distant corridor, Jillian Visser, cellist in the Bishop Symphony Orchestra, is wheeling her case into rehearsal.

It’s the cello equivalent of Greg’s. Gleaming in the high noon Canberra sunshine, I can make out the earthy greens, browns, purples, and yellows covering its voluptuous curves. It’s a real beauty. Before I can observe further, however, it disappears behind a sea of campers.

I have a sudden urge to stand the two cases next to each other, surveying their architecture in all its glorious detail. What makes these cases so desirable? Is it how they look? How they feel? What they’re made of? Perhaps the case is a musician’s ultimate fashion accessory, when it can be so classy and practical at the same time? I hurry back to the computer lab and google ‘Bam’ cases as fast as my eager fingers will have it happen. 

And once again I’m lost in thought.

- Lucy Rash

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