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Melanie S. Belongia,  Violin Maker & Musician -

 

Who knew a few early field trips could change a life so much? A trip to the symphony in 2nd grade, followed by an outing to a luthier's shop a few years later, fueled a creative young mind to hound her parents for a violin. Fortunately, Melanie's father is a guitarist and was happy to oblige.

A graduate of the Virginia Governor's School for the Arts (www.gsarts.org), and a Chesapeake native, Melanie went on to study violin with Eugene Drucker of the Grammy Award winning Emerson Quartet at the Hartt School of Music. Passionate for quartet music she performed with the Katahdin String Quartet throughout her college years - and thanks to the cellist in the group - started meeting many contemporary violin makers in New England. These connections, particularly with Marilyn Wallin,  an outstanding female luthier, led her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a violin maker.

With Marilyn's advice to follow her heart, Melanie moved to Boston and graduated from the North Bennet Street School with a degree in Violin Making and Restoration and worked as Ms. Wallin's apprentice for several years. Ms. Belongia worked for several prestigious violin firms and auction houses before returning to Hampton Roads to focus on making and restoration. Her studio is located in the Bay View area of Norfolk.

Her experience as a professional musician gives her valuable insight into her work as a luthier and she is well known for her skills in making an instrument sound, and play, its very best.

When not at her bench, she can be found playing her 5-string violin with the band Solessin (www.solessin.com) or teaching privately.  She is very excited to be involved in the local music community here in Hampton Roads. Melanie welcomes the opportunity to give back to arts & educational organizations and serves on the board of advisors for Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia (www.bayyouth.org).