Forging his own path
Greg Walke began making musical instruments in 1979. After receiving a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Biology at the University of Guelph, he attended the Welsh School of Violin Making and Repair. Now, that’s not the typical path for a violin maker, but Greg’s not your typical luthier. His journey to his chosen vocation was filled with luck, happenstance, and being in the right place at the right time.
Beethoven’s string quartets
During his BSc, Greg realized he would have to do graduate work if he wanted to continue in the sciences. And that’s where fortuitous circumstances — and some beautiful music — offered a different path. “I was exposed to some chamber music while studying biology at Guelph — Beethoven’s string quartets — which I found quite amazing. I think that was the initial spark for me.” Then while walking about in Toronto, he noticed the shop of a violin maker, Otto Erdesz. “It dawned on me that it was possible to make a living making instruments that made these beautiful sounds.” A trip to Ireland with his brother, where he got hooked on traditional Irish music, sealed the deal. “I came back to Toronto, went to Long & McQuade, and rented a violin. That’s when it all came together for me.”
Following seven years of study and work in Wales and then Germany (his last position was with Hieronymus Köstler in Stuttgart), he returned to Canada and established a studio in 1988. He also worked as a freelance restorer for various shops in North America. Today he dedicates his time solely to making instruments, including violins, violas, and cellos.