Samuel wins on violin found in gran’s attic

Samuel Kane with his prize and the 1891 violin. INPT14-217.
Samuel Kane with his prize and the 1891 violin. INPT14-217.

A talented young musician from Loughgall has won the NI Young Musician of the Year competition - playing a 126-year-old violin which had lain abandoned in his grandmother’s attic for years.

Samuel Kane, a lower sixth pupil at Portadown College, impressed adjudicator Richard Yarr with his performance of the second movement of the Sibelius violin concerto in D minor.

The 17-year-old began learning the violin when he was in primary 6 of the Cope Primary School, under SELB tutor Dolores McConville.

And Dolores was in the audience in Belfast on Saturday night to see him take the top award.

Samuel’s violin, which he received from parents Stephen and Jill as a surprise Christmas present, was made in Paris in 1891 by Jean Baptiste Collin-Mezin, a celebrated French violin maker.

But, in an amazing twist of fate, it had been lying in a family attic for 40 years, after being brought back from London by Samuel’s great-uncle.

Dad Stephen, a farmer, said, “I remembered when I was wee there was a violin in the house but I could never get any music out of it.

“I thought it might have been a bit wrecked. When I found it I saw the date and name inside but thought it was probably a fake.”

However, inquiries soon revealed its authenticity- and Samuel had the vintage violin he had always wanted.

His dad added, “He picked it up and he can make it sing. It is part of him now. This instrument had come through two world wars and made its way to my mum’s roof space in Loughgall.

“People spend years scouring auction houses for the right violin. It’s almost as if it has been waiting for him.”

Samuel, who recently achieved a distinction in his grade 8, is lead violinist in the SELB orchestra, and also helps out at Bann House once a week with young students.

He has also won a place on the Ulster Youth Orchestra this year which includes a summer residential.

Speaking about his win, he said, “I am stunned! I was not expecting this at all!”

Samuel hopes to study at one of the London conservatoires after his A Levels.

The competition, now in its 25th year, was organised by the Rotary Club of Comber, and attracted entrants from schools across the province.