Vancouver busker ‘heartbroken’ over loss of violin

After a long night playing the violin on St. Patrick’s Day, Sean Whittle fell asleep on the SkyTrain. When he woke up, his violin was gone.

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It was in the early hours of St. Patrick’s Day when longtime Vancouver busker Shawn Whittle fell asleep on the SkyTrain on the way home with his friend’s most prized possession, an early 20th-century French violin. .

But when Whittle, 32, who had been playing the violin late into the night for downtown crowds, woke up to an announcement that the train was arriving at King George Station, he noticed that the violin, his wallet and his phone had disappeared.

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“I’m heartbroken,” he told Postmedia. “I had the violin case under my feet sitting alone on a practically empty train, and my wallet and phone were in different inside pockets of my vest.”

In the week since, Whittle has been struggling to locate the instrument, which he says is irreplaceable.

“What makes this even worse is that this isn’t even my violin – a dear friend lent it to me to play with for a while while I’m saving up to fix my main player.”

The self-taught musician has followed in the footsteps of his friend, a violinist in Winnipeg. The violinist took her old violins, cases and bows and the extra money she earned playing on the street to a luthier she knew so she could exchange them.

“He improved it until he finally got this absolutely beautiful violin that was made between 1916 and 1918. It has the richest bass I’ve ever heard in a violin and it’s absolutely wonderful to play,” Whittle said. .

Sean Whittle asks for this violin lost on SkyTrain to be returned. He has sentimental value. Photo by Sean Whittle /sun

The violin was kept in a tattered leather case with a red interior. It has a Fom Kun style shoulder rest instead of a chin rest, and one of the two bows is missing a pearl inlay on one side of the frog. Its case also contains a circular block of rosin glued to a piece of white cloth and a rubber mute bridge.

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On the night of the fiddle’s disappearance, Whittle had decided to work late, hoping to earn enough money from passers-by to cover the rent by playing Celtic-style fiddle tunes, most of which were improvised on the spot.

Whittle has been busking for over 15 years, since he was a teenager, starting with soup cans played like a washboard along with improvised percussion instruments like buckets and pots.

“I finally got into the violin to challenge myself musically, and it’s the first tuned instrument I learned to play. This violin has been to over 13 countries with (my friend) and I can’t stand it being the end of its journey.

“I’ve called almost every pawn shop in the Lower Mainland, as well as music stores and luthiers I could find looking for him,” Whittle said.

He also reported the theft to Vancouver police. If found, the violin can be returned anonymously to police by contacting Vancouver Police at their non-emergency line (604-717-3321) and quoting incident number 2024-915953.

“I have a small reward I can offer, no questions asked,” Whittle said. “If you bought it from someone at the downtown market, I will cover that cost too.”

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