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​​​​​​​Richmond violinist rediscovers his love for a 264-year-old violin, which was stolen on public transit

Recorded violin album connects artist and listeners
Royce Rich
Richmond violinist Royce Rich

Everyone has an item at home that holds great importance to them, but for a Richmond musician his violin is more than that, it’s like “his limb.”

Richmond-born violinist Royce Rich is the proud owner of a 264-year-old violin, an instrument that kept him “optimistic” during the global pandemic.

“I had lost myself during COVID-19, amongst other things, and I remember looking in the mirror and realized I had lost my ambition and creativity that I had back in 2014,” said Rich.

“I (had) wondered where it all went.”

In December 2020, the 22-year-old violinist decided to pick up his 1757 Lorenzo Carcassi violin - which a kind B.C. private benefactor loaned to him in 2015 - and record his first debut solo album titled Short Stories.

The album, said Rich, was a way for him to rediscover his love for music and connect with others.

However, four hours after finishing his final recording for the album, his violin was stolen on public transit in Toronto.

“It was scary and terrifying because it felt like I lost a limb, a part of myself…and most importantly, my voice,” said Rich.

“You hear stories of things like this happening to other people and you don’t expect it to happen to yourself. But it did to me this time.”

Rich told the Richmond News that a kind cab driver had phoned the police after the alleged thief tried to sell him the instrument “for a couple hundred bucks.”

“I was eternally grateful and I can’t wait until I head back to Toronto to thank him for reuniting me with it.”

When asked what makes his violin so special, he said it was the tone (or the sound) that attracted him to it.

“To the regular ear, this violin may sound like any other violin, but to us instrumentalists, it is different, because it has a very rich, deep and mature tone to it.”

According to Rich, if he were to play the violin with 80 other instrumentalists behind him, the tone of his violin would penetrate through the other sounds.

While music plays a huge role in his life, Rich said he still finds time for sports and would’ve chosen to train for the Olympics as a competitive swimmer or runner if he didn’t pick up the violin.

“I love the thrill of (sports). There is this same sense of adrenaline that I get when I play the violin.”

Rich will be returning to Toronto to finish his Artist Diploma at The Glenn Gould School this upcoming fall.