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UC Irvine violinist makes beautiful music with a $5 million Stradivarius

UC Irvine violinist Iryna Krechkovsky with a 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari, valued at $5 million.
UC Irvine violinist Iryna Krechkovsky with a 1689 Baumgartner Stradivari, valued at $5 million.
Donna Santos Photography

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Iryna Krechkovsky, a concert violinist in residence at UC Irvine, is now in possession of one of the most of the expensive instruments in the world.

For the next three years, Krechkovsky will be playing the 324-year-old  Baumgartner Stradivarius violin, estimated to be worth $5 million. So what makes such an old (and expensive) violin sound different?

"These instruments are so responsive, you’re able to achieve a really nuanced sound," said  Krechkovsky on Take Two. "The sound is unlike anything else. Even though this one is 324 years old, modern science still hasn’t been able to really crack the code why the Stradivarius violins are so rare and what makes them sound as good as they do."

Listen to Iryna Krechkovsky playing a sample from Bach’s G Minor Sonata for Solo Violin:

The violin is one of 17 rare instruments loaned out every three years by the Canada Council for the Arts. Krechkovsky was among a number of top Canadian musicians who competed for a chance to play the rare instrument. 

The competition asked musicians to submit an audition CD with three contrasting pieces recorded from a live concert. The finalists chosen then traveled to Toronto to compete live and then sit for an interview. The finalists are ranked and each gets to choose the rare and precious instrument they want to play. 

By contract, Krechkovsky is not allowed to play any other instrument.

"The reason Canada Council created this competition is so that these instruments are heard. They need to be played, so it’s a good rule," said Krechkovsky. "You treat it just like any other instrument, but you have to be careful. I don’t use it playing outside, but just take good care of it. It’s in a case when I'm not playing. The rule for instruments is that if you’re comfortable temperature-wise, your instrument is comfortable as well."

Krechkovsky was born in Ukraine and began playing violin at age 6.