In search of a nordic mandola

Mills has been looking into commissioning a new instrument, so we went to visit one of the most prominent luthiers of the nordic mandola species. Ola Söderström has a workshop in Upplands Väsby (north of Stockholm, between the city and its airport). He picked us up at the train station, and regaled us during the short drive back to his shop with a local-history story: evidently the building that now houses his shop (and others, and a café) is famous as the central scene of a thrilling story about a murder that was first unfairly pinned on clearly innocent immigrant Italian musicians, who were then vindicated. I’m afraid I can’t remember enough details to point to a more informative account, but you can imagine something suitably juicy on your own.

As with many commissioned instruments, the trick is that the maker doesn’t have one you can try that’s just like what you’d want, because once they are made, they go home with their buyers. But Ola did have his own instruments for us to meet, and a wide variety of his other creations. He even brought along a fiddle I could play for a few minutes so Mills could get more of an idea about how it would feel to play in his usual role as accompanist.

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