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How string quartets travel

March 14, 2011

When string quartets travel, they don’t check their instruments. Who, after all, would trust a Stradivarius violin that dates back to 1702, to cargo?

That violin belongs to Daniel Phillips, one of the four members in the Orion String Quartet. Todd Phillips, the brother of Daniel, plays on a Stradivarius violin that was made in 1732. Violist Steven Tenenbom performs on a Gasparo da Salò instrument from 1560, and cellist Timothy Eddy owns a Matteo Goffriller instrument from 1728.

Jonathan Swartz, coordinator for ASU’s String Quartet Residence Program, and himself a violinist, said the violin and viola players usually put their instruments in the overhead bin in an airplane.

But cellists such as Eddy have to pretend that their instrument is a true traveling companion and buy it a seat. The only question is whether the cello would prefer an aisle or window seat.