The Facebook page of my friend Alden, the oboist, linked to an article on Benoit Rolland, winner of a 2012 MacArthur Award. Alden said Roland reminded him of the sushi genius in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a film about a very intense and innovative perfectionist.
The story that Kathleen Burge wrote for the Boston Globe suggests just how inventive Rolland is. “For his entire professional life, Benoît Rolland has been making bows for stringed instruments with one goal: making music easier to play.
“ ‘If a musician is not comfortable with the bow, the bow becomes an obstacle, and he or she cannot be free to play,’ Rolland said. …
“This fall, Rolland, who lives in Watertown with his wife, was rewarded for his innovations and artistry over a career that has included making about 1,800 bows. He was named one of 23 MacArthur Foundation fellows, and given an unrestricted grant of $500,000. …
“Over the years Rolland has made bows for some of the world’s most famous musicians, including violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
“Kim Kashkashian, a violist who teaches at New England Conservatory, has asked Rolland to make two bows for her.
“ ‘He actually will listen to you play and watch you play and instinctively understand the style of your playing, the particular sensuality of your bow and string relationship,’ said Kashkashian, also a leader with the local Music for Food program.
“Each of the bows Holland made for her has distinctive qualities. One works especially well if she is playing chamber music with a piano, Kashkashian said. ‘The second bow he made for me, which has a really deep chocolatey sound, I would tend to use if I were playing completely alone.’ ”
Read the Globe article here.