March 29, 2014

Violinist Friend Ernestine Riedel Chihuaria

Recently in London, a couple from France bought an original Guarnerius violin, and wanted to know its provenance. “You know those violins, they carry a part of humanity, a part of heart and soul of the maker and the previous players,” stated the husband of the new owner, who is a violin teacher and performer.

They contacted Tomoko, who performed with its prior owner: Ernestine Riedel Chihuaria.

Ernestine was born in 1930, and became a member of the San Francisco Symphony in 1964. Tomoko met Ernestine in 1968 through the Peninsula Symphony. Ernestine needed an accompanist at the last minute, and Tomoko performed with her at the DeYoung Museum. Ernestine met her husband Victor in 1968 through a dating service; Tomoko performed at her wedding. Ernestine and Tomoko continued to perform together for 30 years, and considered themselves as a duo rather than a performer-accompanist relationship. Their repertoire included sonatas and duos by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Prokoviev, Copland, etc.

In the early 1990s, Ernestine traveled to Washington D.C., and came across a lost piano and violin concerto by Hummel in the National Archives microfiche collection. Ernestine obtained permission to access this previously undiscovered concerto, and with an orchestra, Ernestine and Tomoko performed this rare Hummel Violin and Piano Concerto in its official U.S. debut in 1994.

As Tomoko’s daughter Beata said, “I have very fond memories of Ernestine and her husband Victor Chihuaria throughout my childhood. Ernestine was like an aunt to me and a most gracious, loving, generous person and beautiful performer.”