Adelaide Cello Festival

March 25 to April 6

Cello Challenge

Wed 25 March to Sat 5 April from 10am-10pm daily


Cello Challenge Partner

State Library of South Australia
State Library of South Australia
Venue Partner


5 international Luthiers will work day and night to produce a world class cello in 10 days. The public are invited to view the making of the Cello. Thanks to the State Library of South Australia, you can see the Luthiers hard at work in the Institute Room, Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide.

The 2011 Cello Challenge was a major hit of the festival, with masters from the Australasian area participating led by Frank Ravatin from France. Frank will again lead the team in the 2014 Festival.

Any questions about the Cello Challenge can be directed to 2014 Artistic Director, Janis Laurs at [email protected]

Biographies of the 2014 Cello Challenge Luthier Team

Frank Ravatin is a graduate of Scuola Internazionale di Liuteria, Cremona. He began his professional career as a restorer in the workshop of Jacques Camurat in Paris, going on to establish his own workshop in 1991. He is one of the most highly regarded makers in the world today, having won many gold medals at competitions throughout Europe and the USA. Frank has been a regular guest lecturer at the Oberlin workshop, U.S.A. since 1997 and has presented lectures at other events such as Vernix 2000 in Puerto Rico and the Journée Européenne de la Lutherie in France. He has been a juror at various international violin making competitions, such as those held in Mittenwald, Germany and in Beijing, as well as those organised by the Violin Society of America. Frank is a member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d'art (EILA). [email protected].

Rainer Beilharz was born in 1964 in Bendigo. He began violin making in 1982 and his training in Australia and Germany culminated in a Master Certificate with Distinction in Germany in 1997. Since this time he has been working exclusively as a maker of new instruments in Guildford, Victoria, with instruments played Australia wide as well as in Europe and the USA. Rainer has won multiple awards including silver medals for violin and cello at the VSA competition in the USA, he is a founding member of the Australian Violin Makers Association (AVMA) and a member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d'art (EILA). .

Alex Grant was born in Helmsdale, Scotland in 1953. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1980, he served his apprenticeship in the trade in the early 1980s before returning to Britain to complete his formal training. He graduated with merit from the Welsh School of Violin Making in 1991 and headed the workshops of Classic Violins in London and Sandra Wagstaff Violins in Hong Kong before moving to Melbourne in 1996 where, for the past eighteen years, he has run his own business, Alex W Grant Violins Pty Limited. Alex is a founding member of the Australian Violin Makers Association (AVMA) and a member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d'art (EILA). .

Born in 1972 in Victoria, Robert Arcaro began violin making in 1994. After gaining experience at Cremona House in Bristol, he went on to study at the Newark School of Violin Making in the UK. After Newark, Robert worked with Roger Hansell in North Yorkshire where he gained experience in the traditional English construction technique of building up on the back. Robert then returned to Australia to set up a workshop in Melbourne. His work primarily consists of accurate copies of historical instruments. [email protected].


Volker Beilharz grew up in a family steeped in the Western cultural tradition. After completing studies on 'cello at the Victorian College of the Arts and a degree in History and English at Melbourne University, in the mid 1980s, Volker became interested in violin making, repair and restoration and has worked professionally in this field ever since. Today his work on both instruments and bows is highly regarded by the string playing community both in Melbourne and around Australia. Volker is a member of the Australian Violin Makers Association (AVMA).


Benedict Puglisi began formal training in string instrument making and repair in 1988, working with many makers, including German trained violinmaker J Ferwerda. After further studies in the UK, Benedict returned to Melbourne in 1995 to form his own business, Atelier Puglisi, where, alongside other fine makers from around the world, he is well respected for his fine restorations, repairs and his handmade double basses. In 2011 Benedict was awarded the silver medal for tone at the International Society of Double Bassists in San Francisco. Benedict has extending his making skills to include a number of different modelled cellos. He is a life member of the International Society of Bassists (ISB) and the Violin Society of America (VSA).

John Simmers studied viola at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, graduating with a Diploma of Music in 1988. He attended the Newark School of Violin Making in England and was awarded a Diploma of Violin Making and Repair with Distinction in 1996. He has owned and operated his own studio in Brisbane since 1997.