No Instruments Were Damaged in the Writing of this Blog

Christopher WIlke with his 13 course lute(Photo: Christopher Wilke)
Christopher WIlke with his 13 course lute(Photo: Christopher Wilke)

Lutenist Christopher Wilke is scheduled to perform in Columbus in just over a week as part of the Columbus Guitar Society Guitar Series at Capital University.

The only question is…whose instrument will he be playing?

Christopher Wilke thought he was being extra careful when he used a special valet service to check in his lute before he boarded a Delta Airlines flight to Rochester, NY.  Instead, he wound up in Delta’s baggage services office in Rochester in an attempt to arrange for repairs to his badly damaged instrument. After getting the runaround, he posted a brief comment about the incident on his Facebook page, which was picked up by Norman Lebrecht, a British music and cultural affairs commentator, who posted it on his blog, which is where I first heard the story. It didn’t take long for the posting to go viral and for hits to exceed 100,000.

Since the initial reports, Wilke has been contacted by “a member of Congress” who has offered to help with the negotiations.  We should have a very interesting conversation when Christopher joins me in the studio Friday, January 24th.

Conversely, a different airline had a completely opposite reaction to a damaged instrument.

Wu Man, who was named 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America, plays a Chinese instrument known as a pipa, which is related to the lute. She has performed with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the Kronos Quartet, as well as symphony orchestras around the world. Her instrument was damaged on a US Airways flight. No argument…no fuss…just apologies and an offer to get the instrument repaired. US Airways “flew her to China, where she was able to get a new pipa from the same luthier that made the broken one.  The airline paid for the new instrument, which runs in the neighborhood of $50,000.

We all have our travel horror stories.  I hope Christopher Wilke has good news for us when he arrives in Columbus – and am pleased Wu Man’s situation had a happy ending.

Watch Wu Man play her now-replaced pipa with the Silk Road Ensemble

Hear Christopher Wilke’s 13 course lute

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