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SAU Ties to Historic Violin

February 2014

Its theft made international news.

On Jan. 27, a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin (valued at $5-6 million) was stripped from the arms of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond after he was hit with a stun gun. The thieves—with the precious instrument in tow—jumped into a waiting getaway car. 

Coverage was quick and broad: NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR), to name a few.

SAU faculty member Marian Lee, a friend of Almond from their time at the Julliard School, N.Y., was very shaken.

"I was shocked and couldn't believe what had happened," she said. "My immediate concern was for Frank's well-being." Although he texted Lee that being tased was very painful, he was okay.

"My next thought was about his performance here at St. Ambrose last fall," said Lee. "We could have been among the last to hear this amazing violin."

Amazingly, within a week, Milwaukee police had arrested three suspects and and a few days later traced the violin to an attic, where it lay inside a plain suitcase.

"My reaction was one of absolute relief," said Lee. "It was like something from a movie."

So, Almond is once again playing the beautiful instrument on loan to him. If Quad Citians have the chance to hear the historic violin played in SAU's Galvin Fine Arts Center again, it will be with an even greater appreciation, given what could have been.

More Stories:
Quad-City Times: Newsworthy antique violin was played here last fall
Chicago Tribune: Violinist speaks about Stradivarius theft: 'I was screaming'

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