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.
My greatest enthusiasm is for cello sound adjustment and making new cellos. It’s a constant pleasure and privilege to work with cellists and I’ve learned a huge amount from sound and about the way cellos play. I’m deeply indebted to the owners and users of great cellos who have given me access to study and measure their fine old instruments. There are such different ways to make a cello and no limit to what these instruments can tell us, if we have the capacity to keep our eyes, ears and minds open. I’m sustained by the friendship and camaraderie of fellow luthiers from around the world and by my partner, Sarah.
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. The AAM recently produced a video about my work which you can view on our Video Gallery page.