About Alexandra Saur

Many years ago I began learning about instrument-building from an organ-builder in Los Angeles named Winfried Banzhaf. This was a brief stint, but my first exposure to the work of a professional builder. Then I worked with Lyn Elder when he had his workshop in San Rafael.

I made my first viol in 1986 in Lyn Elder's workshop in San Rafael. After working with him for a few years, I opened my own shop in Oakland in 1989. When asked what I love about building viols, I found the answer hard to put into words - there is so much. On a real visceral level, being in the shop creating instruments is peaceful. The transformation from wood and glue and varnish to musical instrument is magical. I wish I could find the right words to describe it.

As a musician, my first instrument is the pipe organ, second is the viol. They are so different! I tend to seek out the energetic, joyful music on the organ but the viol to me is so much more melancholy and meditative. I can always play organ, but there have been times when I could not stand to go into that reflective place where the viol takes me. Right now I'm studying viol with Roy Whelden.