After about two weeks of likely astronomical stress and separation anxiety, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and recent high-profile heist victim Frank Almond seemed soft-spoken, relaxed and easy at the Milwaukee Press Clubâ€™s Newsmaker Luncheon Tuesday afternoon at the Newsroom Pub.
The acclaimed violinist was the featured guest at the luncheon, fielding questions about the recent highly publicized armed robbery that left him without his on-loan million dollar 1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin, and several screenwriters with a new script idea to pitch (Potential title: "Itâ€™s a Strad, Strad, Strad, Strad World").
Thankfully, the violin â€“ appraised around $5 million â€“ was recovered by police and returned to Almond unharmed. So unharmed that the violin was back in action Monday night at a concert event at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center in Brookfield. An event program coincidentally dedicated and focused on the history of Almondâ€™s 300-year-old instrument. Seriously, Hollywood, itâ€™s written for you.
After a brief introduction from BizTimes executive editor and OnMilwaukee.com contributor Steve Jagler, Almond took the MPC-branded podium and made some brief comments. He thanked the police for their help in finding the culprits and, of course, the violin. He also thanked the press â€“ even those parked at his house â€“ for understanding that he couldnâ€™t be super open about the case.
Then began the meat of the luncheon: a panel interview with Almond, led by WISN-12 reporter Terry Sater, Journal Sentinel assistant entertainment/features editor Jim Higgins and Bonnie North from WUWM. The interview was followed up by questions from the crowd of 20 to 30 intrigued press club members.
Almond talked about the two 19th century violin bows also snagged in the robbery (worth a paltry combined $50,000) and the worries about the tuning and beautifully crafted sound of the violin going astray after the incident, especially in the freezing weather.
He once again addressed the popular question of why he wouldnâ€™t have more security, such as a bodyguard or a handcuff, to protect against a robbery, noting that it would likely draw more attention to himself and his multimillion-dollar work tool. If the thieves really wanted to steal the violin (and the investigation currently suggest that this was no mindless snatch-and-grab), a handcuff could possibly just make things more dangerous. Better just the violin is snatched and not the musician as well. Or perhaps lose a hand along with the instrument.
Almond also chatted about the processes that bookended the case: proving himself innocent â€“ not a particularly nerve-wracking experience; in fact, Almond described it as "much more boring" than youâ€™d expect â€“ and proving that the Strad, when found, was the right violin. After a quick run through some scales that casually transformed into some Bach, Almond knew it was the right one. There is something magic about the bond between a musician and his instrument.
What about the state of the economically fragile MSO? Did the added media frenzy help out at all? Almond had no answers to that; he was "preoccupied with other things," jokingly stating the obvious. He did confidently say that he and the rest of the orchestra would be playing here for a while â€“ or at least through the year.
And so will the Lipinski Strad, according to Almond, seemingly undaunted by the recent attack. In fact, the concertmaster said that the treasured violin is a work of art on its own, but unlike a painting or sculpture in a museum, it finds its true artistic meaning while in use. As a museum piece, itâ€™s beautiful. In action â€“ and in the hands of an expert â€“ it can be transcendent.
The real lesson of the Almond luncheon, however? God bless North Face. According to Almond, while one stun gun hook got him in the wrist, the other got mostly lodged in his jacket. It still "didnâ€™t feel great," rendering him incapacitated for what he approximates to about four to five seconds, but the current was dulled.
A fascinating crime story AND product placement possibilities? Seriously, if this isnâ€™t at least an episode of "The Mentalist" or something, Hollywood has failed.Â
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published July 21, 2016
Boston and Styx may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Italian culture and heritage. But what Bostyx lacks in Italian cred, they hope to make up for in rocking classic tunes at their Festa Italiana set this weekend.
Published July 20, 2016
2016 tragically claimed yet another entertainment giant Tuesday, as television and film writer-producer-director Garry Marshall passed away in Burbank, Calif., at the age of 81, from complications of pneumonia following a stroke.
Published July 19, 2016
Deadline Hollywood reported this morning that Netflix ordered another season of the now Emmy-nominated docu-series and that it is currently in production under the watch of returning executive producer/director tandem Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos.
Published July 14, 2016
Before he comes to The Pabst Theater on Monday night, we chatted with legendary film director John Carpenter about his new tour, his new music, his newfound critical appreciation and the new "Halloween" movie he'll help bring to life.
Published July 12, 2016
"The Secret Life of Pets" sounds so much like it was cribbed from Pixar's notes, it's hard to believe Pixar didn't make it first - until you replace "pets" with "toys" and realize they did. Considering the fluffy 90-minute result, though, you likely won't mind.
Published July 11, 2016
Did you have a good weekend? Yes? Well, Milwaukeean and Adele fan Kathleen Dohearty's was better, as she got to join the crooning pop star on stage for a duet of "Someone Like You" last night in Chicago.
Published July 10, 2016
Upon first glance, there wouldn't seem to be much common ground between Saturday night's co-headliners Weezer and Panic! At the Disco. And after Saturday night ... yeah, there wasn't much. But that doesn't mean they didn't put on a heck of a show.
Published July 9, 2016
From country to rock to blues to ... a Nick Jonas/The Weeknd mash-up (?), Elle King's Summerfest set was full of zigging when you expected it to zag. Yet through it all, with King leading the charge, it all worked and totally made sense.
Published July 7, 2016
What was once Vic and Gab is now Reyna - and they'll be playing the Miller Lite Oasis on Saturday at 7 p.m. Before then, however, OnMilwaukee caught up with the sister act to look back at the old band and look ahead to the new one.
Published July 7, 2016
X Ambassadors predictably and deservedly graduated to a larger Summerfest stage - from the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage to the Miller Lite Oasis - and a larger headliner time slot this year. Now they just need a larger set list, and they'll really be set.