ACMP member adventures in Ecuador

An international Home Coaching grant collaboration and a newly commissioned viola

Ecuadorean luthier Victor Hugo Ortiz (front) with (left to right): Tom Cappaert, Catalina Paredes, Art Malm and Alejandro Jiménez, holding a set of his instruments

One of the most exciting aspects of ACMP membership is making new friends and forging connections with about chamber music players and coaches worldwide.

ACMP members Art Malm and Tom Cappaert made a second trip to Ecuador this summer. Some of you may recall reading about their first trip in the ACMP blog article Another flying cellist lands in Ecuador.

During their first trip to Ecuador they made a connection with the violinmaker Victor Hugo Ortiz. Art commissioned a new viola from him, and the impetus for the return visit was to pick it up and bring it back to the United States.

Victor Hugo Ortiz making Art Malm’s viola

About Victor Hugo Ortiz

Victor started his career as a professional classical guitarist in Ecuador. When he developed an interest in making instruments, he traveled to Bilbao, Spain to start his luthier studies at the Crisostomo Arriaga Conservatory. He received a scholarship to continue his studies at the Newark School of Violin Making and Restoration in the United Kingdom, where he earned a degree in Bowed String Instrument Making and Restoration in 2007. After working as a luthier in the UK, Italy and Spain, he returned to Ecuador in 2014 to set up his own workshop: Victor Ortiz Violines.

Coaching with Alejandro Jiménez

During their first visit to Riobamba, Tom and Art also made a meaningful connection with the professional violinist Alejandro Jiménez. Alejandro became the first Ecuadorean chamber music coach in the ACMP directory. Coach online with Alejandro.

Tom received a Home Coaching grant from ACMP to coach with Alejandro Jiménez over Zoom and in Ecuador, working on the Paul de Wailly string trio and Dvořák’s American Quartet.

From Illinois to Ecuador: Violinists Lynn Vogel and Chong Zheng coaching with Alejandro Jimenez on Zoom

Playing quartets on a set of Victor Ortiz instruments

A highlight of Tom and Art’s Home Coaching sessions was the opportunity to play on a full set of handmade instruments by Victor Hugo Ortiz, including Art’s newly commissioned viola, at the Hostal Mirador de Bella Vista in Riobamba.

Alejandro Jiménez played while coaching Tom, Art and the Ecuadorean violinist Catalina Paredes (pictured at the top of this article.) He remarked that “the reading session with the four instruments made by the same maker really added to the sound of longing in the second movement of the Dvořák…It was if the spiritual sound of the Dvořák came to life in the present moment.”

Donating more instruments to the local conservatory

Speaking of new instruments – you may remember Tom’s “Flying Cellist” shenanigans when he found a clever way to squeeze cellos into his suitcase to donate to the Conservatorio de Musica in Riobamba. On this trip, he managed to give them an additional 22 instruments. The Conservatory, under the direction of Andres Mejia, was able to start 22 new string students in beginner’s orchestra lessons at the Teatro Lyon this summer!

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