Tourism Saskatchewan

Amati Quartet


Welcome! You are viewing an archived issue of SaskSecrets, Tourism Saskatchewan’s Online Newsletter, from November 2007. To read the current issue of SaskSecrets, click here.

Quartet Features Extremely Rare Instruments

Amati Quartet

Stephen Kolbinson had a dream. As one of Saskatchewan’s original homesteaders, this Icelandic Canadian gentleman farmer established a farm near Kindersley. But his passions extended far beyond the borders of his two-an-a-half section homestead.

Mr. Kolbinson (1888-1986) was passionate about classical music, and particularly interested in seeking out and collecting rare and valuable instruments. For fifteen years he played viola with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. As he entered his fifties, he began collecting instruments created by world-renowned builders like Stradivarius, Guadagnini, Testori and others. Over the years he became a renowned collector of classical instruments; many of the rare violins in the collection of American comedian Jack Benny were purchased from Mr. Kolbinson.

He became particularly fixated on instruments created by the famous Amati family of Cremona in Northern Italy. The Amati instruments’ unique structure contributes to their incomparable sweetness of tone, and they were especially suited to the chamber music of the Baroque era. Mr. Kolbinson’s first Amati acquisition was a 1627 violin, obtained in 1955. A 1637 violin and a 1690 cello followed. To complete a rare Amati quartet of instruments, Mr. Kolbinson then needed to obtain an extremely rare viola. He accomplished this remarkable feat, only to have the viola stolen from his Kindersley farmhouse. Undeterred, Mr. Kolbinson tracked down a 1607 viola in Paris, and in 1958, his prized Amati quartet was complete.

In 1959, he sold the instruments to the University of Saskatchewan for a modest sum, with the deep desire that these instruments be shared with the people of Saskatchewan. In 2003, University President Peter Mackinnon appointed four musicians to be members of the Amati Quartet In Residence, and the University annually plays host to a series of concerts featuring these rare and beautiful instruments. It is the only Amati quartet in Canada, and one of only three in the world.

The next performances of the quartet are December 15, 2007 and March 15, 2008 at Convocation Hall on the U of S campus. For more information or tickets, visit the Amati Quartet In Residence website or call (306)653-2890.