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Volume 15, Issue 22  | March 17, 2023Subscribe

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Custom violin built by Stephen Davy finds a home with LBHS freshman Archer Joseph


Stephen Davy, owner of Stephen R. Davy Violins, spent the pandemic building a custom violin for a fortunate recipient, and Laguna Beach High School freshman Archer Joseph has just been named the beneficiary of that gift.

It all started when Davy received an art grant for $5,000 – funded by the Wayne Peterson Fund – from the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission to build a custom violin so that it could be gifted to a local Laguna student or player. This was among the many donations made by the Wayne Peterson Fund of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation.

“I am very happy that the violin found a home,” Davy said. “I was inspired by a violin previously owned by Australian-American violinist Fritz Kreisler which is in a curation at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.” 

The instrument most closely associated with Kreisler is the 1733 Guarneri ‘del Gesù’. When Kreisler donated the ‘del Gesù’ to the library in 1952, Rembert Wurlitzer wrote that the violin was “possibly the finest concert violin in existence.”

custom violin with Archer

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Photos courtesy of Stephen Davy

Recipient Archer Joseph (on left) with Stephen Davy

In an October 2021 interview with Stu News, Davy said, “I am interested in gifting it to help inspire a musical student to pursue music. The recipient would need to have some form of connection to Laguna or lived in Laguna and has moved to college. We prefer an intermediate to skilled level young player. It was a great thing what the Arts Commission did, and I hope to get the violin to the right person. I look forward to who that might be.” 

Joseph was selected by Jeremy Chung, Instrumental Music Director at Laguna Beach High School who said, “Archer was chosen because he’s an outstanding student and musician. Plus being a 9th grader, he will get to use the instrument for the next four years of high school.” 

During COVID, Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl developed a proposal for a grant program for Laguna Beach artists to return to creative work. Poeschl shared the concept with the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, who has undertaken great work and had supported the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. A donation of $100,000 was awarded to the City of Laguna Beach, made possible by a gift from the Wayne Peterson Fund of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, to support Laguna Beach artists. The grant program was unanimously supported by the City Council and Arts Commission. 

custom violin Davy with violin

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Davy with the violin in 2021

“It took several months,” Davy said. “It’s a long process that can’t be rushed, especially in later stages.”

Stephen R. Davy Violins specializes in the sales, restoration and repair of fine bowed instruments as well as bow re-hair, rentals, accessories and adjustment. They also provide rental instruments supporting school music programs in the Southern California area.

Davy studied violin making with Italian luthier Albert Moglie, a master violin maker and the curator for more than 50 years of the Stradivarius instruments at the Smithsonian Institution, specializing in fine bow re-hair and personal adjustment appointments for optimum sound quality. Davy credits his mentors Harry Duffy, Karl Roy, Albert Moglie and Lynn Hannings.

Stephen R. Davy Violins is located at 31662 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

For more information on Stephen R. Davy Violins, go to


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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