B I O G R A P H I E S
Robin Aitchison I developed a deep desire to become a luthier while learning to play the cello as a child. After working in engineering and business for ten years, I spent three years training at the Newark School of Violin Making, from which I graduated with Distinction in 1996. I then spent two years as Assistant Instrument Custodian at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I worked to maintain its renowned stringed instrument collection. At the Academy I benefitted as a maker from access to world class instruments and gained a profound insight into set-up and sound adjustment.
Sarah and I then established our specialist cello business, Aitchison & Mnatzaganian Cello Specialists in Ely, Cambridgeshire, where I spend most of my time making close copies of classical cellos to commission. I also take great pleasure in working on set-up and sound adjustment with cellists from the UK and throughout Europe. Every summer I join the renowned Violin Society of America workshop in Oberlin, Ohio where senior international luthiers share ideas and develop their expertise.
I have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and on BBC and ITV television and radio news. I have also given pre-concert talks for the Academy of Ancient Music at the Wigmore Hall, London and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.
Sarah Mnatzaganian I studied the cello as a child and read English at St Hugh’s College, Oxford and Byzantine History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. I then worked as a freelance PR consultant, cello teacher and writer before establishing Aitchison & Mnatzaganian Cello Specialists with Robin.
It is always a pleasure and privilege to welcome cellists to our workshop home and to provide players with a considerate and comprehensive service. I focus on helping cellists find cellos and bows to suit their professional needs and I assist players in finding new homes for their cellos and bows through our Cello Exchange service. I also represent the work of fine contemporary bow makers across the world and enjoy researching and writing our popular newsletters and articles which are accessed by thousands of cellists each year on our website.
Brian de Boer was born in British Columbia and grew up on Prince Edward Island, Canada. He started playing the cello when he was twelve, which soon became a real passion and he later developed a strong interest in woodworking. By the time he finished high school, Brian realised he could combine his two passions by following a career in violin making. He started his studies at the Newark School of Violin Making in 2009 and graduated with a distinction in 2012.
Brian first worked with Robin on a placement organised by the Rowan Armour Brown Trust in 2011 during his final year at NSVM and after graduation he worked as a repairer and restorer at The Sound Post in Toronto for four years. He reconnected with Robin at a violin making conference in 2015 and started working with Aitchison & Mnatzaganian in September 2016 as Assistant Cello Maker. ‘In every aspect of the work we do my understanding and technique has been broadened. I very much admire Robin’s analytical approach and his creative ideas to solving problems.’