The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) Instrument Fund announced its third acquisition: a 400-year old cello by the influential instrument makers Antonio and Hieronymus Amati, from the historical period known as the ‘golden age’ of instrument making.
Audiences across Australia will have the opportunity to see and hear the newest member of the ACO family during the ACO’s May Soloists national tour. Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve will introduce the cello to the audiences on this national tour, taking centre stage with Debussy’s breathtaking Cello Sonata in an arrangement by Jack Symonds.
Valve, the ACO's principal cellist, toldAFR"The instruments we purchase are like the highest-paid opera singers of the world," said Valve. "The Amati has an amazing power to it."
In 2011, the ACO established the Instrument Fund to offer patrons and investors the rare opportunity to participate in the ownership of a bank of historic stringed instruments. An unlisted Australian unit trust available only to wholesale investors, its investment objective is to achieve long-term capital gains.
The rise in value of the Fund’s first two assets, a 1728/29 Stradivarius violin and a 1714 Guarneri violin, acquired in 2011 and 2014 respectively, has so far realised a current unit price of $1.40, from an initial entry price of $1.00 in 2011. The Fund’s latest acquisition, the 1616 Amati, is its first cello and is valued at just over USD$1 million.
“The search for the new instrument has taken at least three years, and the ACO has taken utmost care in undertaking all necessary due diligence and obtaining opinions from leading experts,” says ACO Managing Director Richard Evans.
“The Instrument Fund has created a wonderful niche in an unusual dimension between financial investment and arts philanthropy. We are delighted that we have made available an investment opportunity that has not only performed steadily but socially benefits audiences all over the world, from a school classroom in an underprivileged region to a world class concert hall. In the hands of the ACO musicians, it is a living and breathing piece of history and an unquantifiable listening experience.” says ACO Instrument Fund Chair, Bill Best.
The ACO Instrument Fund was made possible in the beginning with substantial donations by ACO patrons such as Peter Weiss (who in 2016, also generously donated a 1729 Joseph Guarneri cello to the ACO) and Naomi Milgrom, and early investors such as Guido and Michelle Belgiorno-Nettis. The pool of investors has steadily grown to include individuals via their SMSFs and PAFs, as well as companies and trusts.
About the 1616 Amati cello ‘ex-Fleming’
The 1616 Amati cello ‘ex-Fleming’ will be the third acquisition of the Fund, and is its first cello. In addition to the ACO Instrument Fund’s two violins, the 1728/29 Stradivarius and the 1714 Guarneri filius Andreæ, the cello joins the ranks of other rare historical instruments played by the orchestra, including the 1743 Guarneri del Gesu violin played by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti, the 1759 Guadagnini violin on loan from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a 1610 Maggini viola and a 1585 da Salo double bass, as well as the 1729 Guarneri cello which was most recently generously donated by the Instrument Fund’s Founding Patron, Peter Weiss.
The famous Amati family, chronologically precede and are considered as important as the Guarneri and Stradivari families in the Cremonese golden age of instrument making. The ‘brothers Amati’ as Antonio and Hieronymus are commonly known, were renowned for their innovative design. They developed the trade passed on to them by their father, Andrea Amati, and in turn their legacy was further established by Hieronymus’ son, Niccolo Amati. In the 20th century, the cello was owned by the celebrated British cellist Amaryllis Fleming (1925-99).