The Australian Chamber Orchestra Instrument Fund has acquired a 400-year old cello by Antonio and Hieronymus Amati, belonging to the historical period hailed as the golden age of instrument making.

In 2011, the ACO established the Fund to offer patrons and investors the opportunity to participate in the ownership of a bank of historic stringed instruments, specifically investing in instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries. Since then, it has acquired Australia’s only Stradivarius violin, and a 1714 violin by Joseph Guarneri filius Andreae. “The search for the new instrument has taken at least three years, and the ACO has taken utmost care in undertaking all necessary due diligence and obtaining opinions from leading experts”, said ACO Managing Director Richard Evans.

The Amati cello was bought last year for $US1 million ($1.4 million) from J&A Beare, a London-based fine instrument dealer. Australian audiences will have the chance to hear it cello during the ACO’s Soloists national tour. Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve will introduce the cello to audiences on this national tour.

As Limelight reported in October of last year, Valve was also the proud recipient of a 1729 Guarneri cello valued at $1.8 million, a donation made by Australian philanthropist Peter Weiss. While Valve will occasionally play the Amati cello, opportunities will be shared amongst the section after the tour. “Given the difference in sound between the two instruments, depending on the size of the hall and repertoire, the cellos will be moved around the section at our section leader, Timo-Veikko Valve’s, direction,” said Evans.

The new cello joins a substantial list of rare historical instruments played by the ACO, including the 1743 Guarneri del Gesu violin played by Artistic Director Richard Tognetti, the 1759 Guadagnini violin on loan from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a 1610 Maggini viola and a 1585 da Salo double bass.

The famous Amati family were renowned for their innovative instrument design, considered as important as the Guarneri and Stradivari families. Adding to the cello’s starry lineage, it belonged to celebrated British cellist Amaryllis Fleming in the 20th century.