Guy Batifort - President
Guy Batifort spent his early childhood in a small village outside of Montpellier, in the south of France. He was raised by his grandmother for whom music and dance were indispensable components of a proper education. Thus, at the age of four Guy began both piano and ballet lessons. Though he was forced to renounce his dance studies at age ten when he was sent to Ardouane Minor Seminary for schooling, music remained a passion. Inspired by the sounds of the Folk movement, Guy took up the violin at age sixteen, learning the instrument on his own at first, then later under the instruction of Guy Chêne, a professor at the Montpellier Conservatory of Music.
While teaching at a public school in the early 1970s Guy continued his exploration of music, joining various folk ensembles and progressive jazz-rock groups. It was during this time that he befriended Nicole Dumond, a singer with one such group, whose studies at the Cremona International School of violin Making would introduce him to the world of lutherie.
Guy resigned from his teaching position in 1984 and founded the Batifort-Dumond Workshop in Montpellier. In 1991 he met Alain Moinier who had taken over the company Chevalets Aubert and who was seeking a partner with whom to develop the production of quartet instruments crafted in the Mirecourt tradition. Guy remained with this illustrious company for seven years, presenting at various international trade fairs and travelling the world to meet violin makers and tour their workshops.
The extensive experience and international exposure that Guy acquired during his time with Chevalets Aubert provided the foundation for his present-day expertise. It was also during this period that he met Roger Lanne with whom he developed Lanne’s line of contemporary cellos “Art 2000.” In 1998 Guy and Roger founded Viaduct Violins. For nearly twenty years Viaduct Violins has furnished violin professionals around the world with the finest French quartet instruments and bows.
Guy resides in Montpellier, France where he continues to cultivate his lifelong interests in literature, art, cuisine, and, of course, music.
Roger Lanne - Violin Expert
Roger Lanne was born in Paris and grew up in the city’s Faubourg Saint Antoine neighborhood which once was home to many traditional woodworking professions. Though Roger’s parents were not musicians themselves, they deeply appreciated music. When he was seven years old, Roger began to dream of becoming a violin maker and set about crafting his very first violin (which measures approximately ten centimeters in length and is still in his possession).
At age fifteen, he had the great privilege of becoming an apprentice in the Etienne Vatelot Workshop. From there Roger went on to train at the Mittenwald School of Violin Making in Germany under the direction of master maker Horsteiner. In 1966, having finished his training, he returned to the Etienne Vatelot Workshop in Paris where he remained for ten years. During this time Roger had the opportunity to work with some of the finest musicians and string instruments of that era.
In 1976 Roger opened his own workshop on Rue de Constantinople in Paris. Over the course of the next twenty years he fortified his reputation, developing close relationships with many renowned musicians and dividing his time between instrument restoration, fitting and adjusting, and appraisals. Roger created a new workshop in 1996 located in the Viaduc des Arts: an elevated railway repurposed as a green promenade above and a series of artistic workshops below in Paris’ 12th Arrondissement. There, just a stone’s throw from the Bastille Opera House where he is one of the Opera’s official violin makers, Roger cultivated rewarding professional and musical relationships with these talented violinists and cellists.
A desire to flex his creativity led Roger to design his own cello, the ART 2000, with the support of Guy Batifort. Following their collaboration on the development of the ART 2000, Roger and Guy co-founded Viaduct Violins in 1998. For nearly twenty years Viaduct Violins has furnished violin professionals around the world with the finest French quartet instruments and bows.
In 2011, after a rich forty-eight-year career, Roger turned over his workshop to Yann Porret—a graduate of the Cremona International School of Violin Making—who continues to extend the workshop’s legacy.
Roger Lanne now resides in Normandy where he continues to exercise his professional passion on special projects linked to Viaduct Violins.
Simon Smith - Consultant
Violinist Simon Smith’s fascination with bows and instruments began as a student: the endless quest for the perfect solution with only limited means.
Growing up in rural East Anglia, one of 6 siblings, the opportunity to play the violin was random, and almost entirely owed to the enlightened attitude toward music education of the era. Once the bug took hold there was no turning back and school work and all other interests were easily forgotten in favour of endless practice, chamber music, leading the National Youth Orchestra (aged 15) and ultimately, scholarships to study in London and Germany.
A varied career as a London-based player followed – membership of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, many film and TV sessions, and continuous activity as a soloist and chamber musician - until 15 years ago when the desire to focus on solo performances and teaching became paramount.
Now an experienced teacher of students from across the world, with masterclasses conducted in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia and across the UK, Simon has became increasingly concerned about the standard of instruments available to students – and the costs involved. Rekindled, therefore, was the search for the perfect instrument or bow at a reasonable price, but this time for others. Meanwhile, as a more established professional, he is constantly tempted by the potential to acquire some better tools than 30 years ago, as is sentiment is often “this one will work perfectly for my next recording”.
Simon continues to be based in London, but travels regularly to the Far East and Europe and always enjoys meeting other violinists, and helping players find their perfect match.