Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Student given violin for use during school at Lamont

lassley with violin

Royce Lassley, a freshman violinist in DU's Lamont School of Music, plays a violin loaned to him by Charles Rufino of Rufino Violins.

Royce Lassley calls it a gift from God.

Lassley, a freshman violin performance major, had been playing an instrument given to him by a previous teacher.

Then his teacher at Lamont, Yumi Hwang-Williams, told him the instrument was holding him back. A quality violin, Hwang-Williams explains, “has the right overtone, so students can learn to play in tune and produce and project a beautiful sound.”

There was one problem. Lassley didn’t have the money to buy a quality violin. So, he started writing to violin makers in fall 2009. 

“I come from a not wealthy background,” Lassley explains. “We never had enough money to afford an instrument.”

And then Charles Rufino, of Rufino Violins, stepped in. A violin maker since 1974, Rufino says he gets many requests for help from deserving people, but cannot help everyone. Yet, something about Lassley touched him.

He called Hwang-Williams to hear her thoughts and was impressed that a prominent musician had such a connection with her student. He decided Lassley deserved a break and has loaned Lassley a violin indefinitely.

Hwang-Williams says she can identify with Lassley. He was introduced to the violin in 6th grade but wasn’t able to play regularly until 8th grade. Hwang-Williams got a later start playing the violin as well, using an instrument provided by a public school in Philadelphia.

She met Lassley in September 2008 as a resident instructor at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan. When Lassley showed up a year later to audition for Lamont, she was impressed by the improvements he had made.

The violin loan even includes servicing; Lassley will send the violin back to Rufino each year to make sure the instrument is in good condition.

Lassley got his fingers on the instrument during an April 23 presentation at DU’s Hamilton Recital Hall. Joe Docksey, director of DU’s Lamont School of Music, also took the opportunity to trumpet Rufino’s kindness.

“[Rufino] is a wonderful person and [violin] maker,” Docksey said.


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