Susan Openhowski Viola
15 1/4 inch viola modeled on Gasparo da Salo with ergonomic cut-outs of the upper bouts
commissioned a small viola from Thurmond Knight. She requested a much
lighter instrument, as short as practically possible, and with ergonomic
cut-outs of the upper bouts for greater ease of playing.
Thurmond made several models, among them a paper viola designed using Gasparo da Salo's viola dimensions, chosen because of the shorter playing string length that da Salo used.
Susan played two larger violas for many years as a professional player and teacher in the Long Island area. She and her husband have now retired to New Hampshire near Lancaster. As she has gotten older it has been more difficult to hold up the heavier/larger violas for long rehearsals or performances.
After examining and "playing" the various paper models, she decided on the one designed after da Salo. The viola measures 15 1/4 inches long, and both upper bouts have the desired "cut-outs." She has been playing the instrument for well over a year and found that it meets all the requirements that she proposed originally. There are no further issues with weight and length. She is now able to play the viola for protracted periods of time without fatigue or discomfort.