Art: Cello for the fountain

Limestone fountain with cello.(September 2009) Some people’s careers take unusual turns, helping them realize unusual ideas later on in their professional life. David Vallée of Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes in the Département Vaucluse with his Cello fountain is a case in point.

Be it known that Vallée is an industrial IT technologist. At the age of 30 he discovered his love for stone masonry. In the years that followed, he attended courses and took the CAP, the French professional examination for stonemasons and stone sculptors. „I wanted to live my passion“, quotes the French trade magazine Pierre Actual (5/2009).

Then he got a tip-off at plans to build a fountain in the French Alps town. In the course of talks with the contractor Vallée made an unusual association: he learned that the contractor had once been a flood victim – a flood that had destroyed his wife’s beloved cello. „The idea to combine the musical instrument with the contract was born“, according to Vallée. The contractor was also the owner of a small inn, which many musicians and music-lovers use as a stop-over.

Vallée chose Roche d’Espeil limestone because of its density and resistance to frost damage. He found software in the internet, which helped him construct the cello. A local quarry delivered the pieces in 1 m³ blocks. After two and a half months of half-day chiselling, the cello could be assembled from 14 separate pieces.

The other parts needed to construct a functional cello, namely the strings and the fingerboard were forged in iron by two smithies. Including the edge of the fountain the instrument reaches 3,80 m in height. The water flows from the saddle and drips into the basin or runs along the strings downward.

The American cellist Eric Longsworth played at the unveiling. Longsworth, too, is a boarder-crosser who likes to demand the unusual from his instrument in jazz concerts.

David Vallée (Mail)

Eric Longsworth