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 Club’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: "It’s a Strad, Strad, Strad, Strad World").
Thankfully, the violin – appraised around $5 million – 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 Almond’s 300-year-old instrument. Seriously, Hollywood, it’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 – even those parked at his house – for understanding that he couldn’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 wouldn’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 – not a particularly nerve-wracking experience; in fact, Almond described it as "much more boring" than you’d expect – 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 – 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, it’s beautiful. In action – and in the hands of an expert – 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 "didn’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 isn’t at least an episode of "The Mentalist" or something, Hollywood has failed.
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 Sept. 26, 2016
You would think Netflix would spend October stocking up some horror flicks in time for the Halloween season. And oddly, you would be thinking wrong. But at least Netflix has a strong supply of originals and classics coming your way in October.
Published Sept. 25, 2016
John Darnielle turned to a surprising place for The Mountain Goats' latest record: professional wrestling. Before the band's show Tuesday night, we chatted with the storytelling frontman about his wrestling inspiration and digging through nostalgia.
Published Sept. 23, 2016
The 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival opened Thursday evening much the way the last rendition closed: with a documentary tribute to finding meaning at the movies, this time via "Life, Animated," a sweet and lovely moving picture - in all meanings of the phrase.
Published Sept. 19, 2016
With almost 300 movies set to screen during the Milwaukee Film Festival, it can be almost impossible to figure out what to see. OnMilwaukee film critic Matt Mueller is here to help, breaking down each day with what you must see.
Published Sept. 16, 2016
Looking around Reed Street Yards, it's hard not to think it would be a perfect place for a nature-conscious music festival. Apparently Rock the Green thought the same thing, as the area will play host to its return on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Published Sept. 15, 2016
Oscar winner John Ridley, "Arrested Development" star Mae Whitman and "Silicon Valley" star Martin Starr are just a few of the many filmmakers, film subjects and performers heading to the Milwaukee Film Festival starting next Thursday.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
The Green Bay Packers will have to wear a Color Rush uniform during their Thursday night spat with the Chicago Bears on Oct. 20. Thankfully, the revealed jersey is nowhere near the brightly colored nightmare it could've been.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
Good news, Brewers fans. Your suffering through this difficult - though not completely catastrophic - rebuilding season is coming to a grateful close, and shining as a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel is next year's schedule, released today.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
There's no denying the impact of "Avatar" and its ability to tell a universal story in a revolutionary way years ago. Now, it's up to Cirque du Soleil to bring that immersive world and universal message from the screen to the stage with "Toruk - The First Flight."
Published Sept. 13, 2016
It's no wonder Hollywood would want to adapt the Miracle on the Hudson River into a movie. But while director Clint Eastwood works the landing to the best his late-career abilities, it's the rest of the movie around the crash that proves catastrophic for "Sully,"