2023 Recipients: Tommaso Chiesa / MJ Kwan, Sam Zygmuntowicz, Sebastian Gonzalez 

The VSA Grants program began in 2018 as an extension of our educational platform, the very essence of the Mission Statement of our society. Twice a year, we put out a call for letters of inquiry. They are reviewed by the Scholarship and Grants Committee, chaired by Chris Clark, Treasurer. Loyal volunteer, Jay VandeKopple manages the process of follow up with the applicants.

You need only have a good idea and plan, not be a professional Grant Writer! 

All Committees make recommendations for actions to be taken by The VSA Board of Directors. The Board will then discuss and vote, directing the distribution of funds on all final awards. 

The Violin Society of America is pleased to add to the accumulated knowledge of violin family instruments and bows with the following projects, which were awarded grant funding during the 2023 fiscal year:

The Superba's Violin Makers: Violin Makers in Genova 1600 - 1800










The project encompasses a detailed investigation into the violin makers who lived and worked in Genova, Italy, from 1600 to 1800. Tommaso Chiesa aims to develop his research capabilities by accessing and consulting documents found in both civil and ecclesiastical archives, as well as examining the instruments produced by these makers.


Chiesa has opted to concentrate on the Genovese makers because the city, also known as 'La Superba', was home to a relatively unknown violin making school. Although not widely recognized, this school maintained a unique and coherent design-based tradition, with clear stylistic connections visible among its makers through their instruments. The limited existing information about this school presents Chiesa with a significant opportunity for thorough research. 

The primary goal of the project is to present a lecture at a VSA Convention and to publish an article in a VSA publication outlining the history of violin making in Genova. The article will clarify the formative development and construction techniques used by the makers from this school. Chiesa believes that understanding the style and methods of artisans from a lesser-known but influential school can provide invaluable insights for contemporary makers interested in exploring new stylistic and technical possibilities in their craft.

 Patters in data that may inform contemporary and future violin-making practices


MJ Kwan and Sam Zygmuntowicz are teaming up with Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez to apply advanced statistical methodologies to the extensive dataset of Sam's instruments and examine the nuanced relationships between construction parameters and resultant sound. 

This research team is working to delineate regions of the spectra influenced by specific construction parameters; quantify the magnitude of influence each parameter has on sound radiation within these

frequency bands; document trends, anomalies, or patterns in the data that may inform contemporary and future violin-making practices.

The practical impact is to offer actionable insights for both established and upcoming violin makers, helping them fine-tune their craft for desired sound outcomes through a presentation at VSA

 Convention. The team’s work includes developing and outlining standard methods and best practices for keeping data in a way conducive to statistical analysis. They are eager to publish their findings in The VSA Papers.

 VSA Grant Program 

For our Fall 2023 grant round, the VSA is finalizing approval of VSA Grants totaling nearly $8,000. We are excited to announce the next round of the new VSA Grant Program, to provide funding for projects that advance the VSA's mission and goals. We invite project proposals from individuals, groups or organizations. We are particularly interested in projects that go beyond our traditional methods to benefit our VSA members and our wider community.


  1. The grant applicant and the majority of the principal investigators of the project must be VSA members in good standing.
  2. The subject matter of the project includes (but is not limited to) publications, research, and education.
  3. The projects will be evaluated based on the quality and results of the projects, how well they advance the VSA’s mission, and how they benefit our VSA members and our wider community.
  4. The first step in the grant proposal process is to submit a short Letter of Inquiry. The purpose of this letter is to determine how well the proposed project meets our VSA mission and serves our community. If the project merits further consideration, the applicant will be invited to submit a detailed Grant Application Form.
  5. Download the Letter of Inquiry, and submit the completed form by emailing it to [email protected]. The deadline is March 1, 2024.
  6. The deadline for the Grant Application Form is May 1, 2024. Grant applications will be accepted only from those who have been invited based on their Letter of Inquiry.
  7. Final decisions for grant funding will be made by July 1, 2024.
  8. Moving forward, we expect two rounds of proposals per year, with Letter of Inquiry deadlines in March and September.
  9. VSA funds are limited and we expect many competitive proposals. Therefore, a VSA grant may supply only a portion of your total project expenses. Other sources of funding may be necessary to ensure the overall success of your project.

Chris Clark, VSA Treasurer

Chair, Scholarship & Grant Committee