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Music Instrument Bank

Performing at Festival of the Sound

Rachel Mercer has been described as a "pure chamber musician" (Globe and Mail) creating "moments of pure magic" (Toronto Star). She is cellist of Ensemble Made In Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, the Seiler Trio, and is Artistic Director of the 5 at the First Chamber Music Series in Hamilton. Rachel can be heard on the Naxos, Dalia Classics and EnT-T record labels, and released a critically-acclaimed album of the Bach Suites on Pipistrelle (2014), recorded on the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius Cello from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank. Rachel has given master classes across North America, South Africa and in Israel and with Ensemble Made In Canada is Artist-in-Residence at Western University in London, Ontario.


About the Musical Instrument Bank

Every 3 years, talented Canadian classical musicians compete for the chance to borrow fine stringed instruments from the Canada Council’s Musical Instrument Bank (MIB). The competition is intense and is decided by a jury of professional musicians and peers*. Musicians who win the competition are often invited to perform with their instruments on some of the world’s most celebrated stages.

The MIB includes close to 22 magnificent instruments worth a total of over $41 million. These historically-significant violins, cellos and bows, ranging in age from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, were crafted by the world’s finest luthiers such as Stradivari, Gagliano and Pressenda. Find out more about the instruments.

The Canada Council funds, administers and promotes the MIB collection and competition. It started the MIB in 1985 through the generous legacy of $100,000 from the Barwick family of Ottawa. Since then it has grown steadily thanks to generous donations, loans, and purchases made with donated funds. Find out how to donate to the MIB.

Ric Heinl and his team of luthiers at Geo. Heinl & Co. Limited are responsible for restoring and maintaining the instruments.

* The jury members for the 2015 completion were: Mary-Katherine Finch, Clemens Merkel, Maria Kaneko Millar and Lara St. John

About the Cello

1730 Newland Joannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello

This magnificent cello was made from black Italian poplar, rather than the more often used maple. The softer wood and the way it was cut on a slab is flexible and supple, creating a rich alto sound, like a low rumble on stage. It is believed to be a twin of another cello created from the same tree, currently owned by the Royal Academy of Music in London.

  • Purchased by the Canada Council for the Arts (with funds from the Edith Davis Webb endowment)
  • Acquired: 2011
  • Value: $800,000.