“ When performing a work on a musical instrument, one must be measure and carry out every detail with finesse and delicacy. And to do so, accept to retouch only what is necessary to keep the authenticity of the instrument. Its origin and history go back to centuries, and our role is to extend them by matching their identity to the client’s current needs. There is therefore a respect for the object but also for the one who has shaped it; that’s why this job makes us humble. A colleague of the 17th century spent months designing and making this violin. Who am I to ruin this work? Then we have to consider the perspective of the instrument itself, which has a life and an evolution; And I’m just a little spoke at a certain moment and spokes make up the wheel so its story will continue and be as beautiful as possible. In a way, I do not have the right to remove the traces of time that have been laid on it. That’s why, I always look for the truth in my diagnosis: there are things to repair because it would damage the instrument if we did not do them, but some important details, like the varnish for example, are not integrated in Restoration. The marks could be masked by a coat of varnish, but the instrument would not be the same. A violin that remains genuine, will also become handsome and old with its original patina, so we do not seek to remove its soul or its story. In addition, it would be a big mistake, because of the value of these works of art. Some worth 3 or 4 million euros! Any operation that alter their original quality would lose much of its value. Therefore, my job is a work of goldsmith carried out with integrity.
A luthier must also have a good quality of listening and, as the wonderful expression say it with Latin words “Festina lente”, he has to hasten slowly, so to go to the bottom of things. Authenticity here again acts as a mirror. You have to be yourself to become receptive and present to others, understand their need, then adapt and manage the instrument. There is a need for technical gestures and know-how, but the difference is reflected in greater sensitivity and a sensational experience. “I want a warmer or more sour sound” for example. What does that mean? How to qualify a sound? There is no reference, pantone or color chart that is universal.
It is therefore necessary to recreate each time a common alphabet on the perception of sonorities. Sometimes we also need to understand the mood of the musician. This relationship to be one with one’s instrument is experienced just as in a love marriage. When they come to the shop, they seek to find back the symbiosis with their partner. It is therefore necessary to be objective because sometimes, the problem can be at the emotional level. Taking a step back will be enough to find a genuine relationship and restoring calm and serenity. Yes, it is true that for a musician to be interiorly accorded is as important as restoring his instrument. For it is only on this condition that he can perform a pure and beautiful music that touches us all in deep and personal ways.
We are all aesthetic beings thirsty for beauty. I am fortunate to have work in a luxury business, accessible only to privileged people, due to the price of the workforce in France. But my greatest joy would be to make it accessible to the greatest number of people, and that our society advocates for a musical and artistic education at the age when our children awake their curiosity and senses facing new and sensitive beauty. But we are robbing our time, especially the media and all he pollution that invade our lives. Real luxury is time! This precious time for ourselves and for the people we care for. Therefore, it should be found, mastered, and used with intelligence in what nourishes our vocation and brings joy. The relation to nature is essential to regain that self-governance and to rejuvenate oneself. I also like and recommend silence. It is the absence of sound, which is the most difficult music to create for all musicians, and it contains and supports all the other notes.
It is therefore incumbent upon us to immerse ourselves in the aesthetic of existence that is revealed through nature, art and music in particular. This will humanize us and give meaning to our lives. It is a path of small sacrifices but the benefit is so great and will last a lifetime. Like his modest parents in the modest income levels who choose to rent a hand-made violin for their child instead of borrowing one at the Conservatoire, because they wanted “the best” for their child. Each of us can experience this true luxury, on one condition : to put our priorities in what creates authentic and lasting happiness.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian in Bourg-en-Bresse, October 4, 2018
Link to the website of Mickaël Ourghanlian
Read also the portrait of Mickaël Ourghanlian